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Columbia Receives U.S. Helicopters

In a January 8 ceremony with Colombian President Andres Pastrana, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia formally presented 14 UH-60L Blackhawk helicopters to the country for its counter-narcotics efforts. Part of a $1.3 billion aid package to Colombia initiated under the Clinton administration, the Blackhawk helicopters were delivered to Colombia between July and December of last year.

In addition to these 14 helicopters, which are to be flown by the Colombian army, the United States supplied two Blackhawks to the Colombian national police as part of the Colombian aid package, formally known as “Plan Colombia.” Initially, the amount that Congress appropriated for Blackhawks under Plan Colombia was predicted to cover the supply of 18 helicopters, but it only covered costs for 16.

Plan Colombia also initially called for delivery of up to 42 UH-1H Huey II helicopters to Colombia, of which 30 would go to the army and the rest to the national police. But, as with the Blackhawks, the appropriated funds will not cover the cost of all the helicopters. The Colombian army will now receive 25 Huey IIs, deliveries of which will start in March, and the national police will receive nine, six of which have already been delivered and three of which are currently in Colombia being modified. Colombia also possesses 33 UH-1N helicopters, 15 of which were funded under Plan Colombia.

Colombia is further scheduled to receive 14 more Blackhawks under a separate contract signed on December 14, 2000. Half of these helicopters will go to the Colombian army, while the other half are intended for the country’s air force.