San Antonio police will soon be flying a new Eurocopter AS350B3, adding to their fleet of four Schweizer 333s.
The department received the AS350B3 March 8 after city officials determined it was needed to reduce emergency response times.
The money for it, $3.2 million, was from a 2005 Urban Area Security Initiative grant.
The helicopter will be used to support homeland security and first response missions. It can carry six people, including the pilot, and will be equipped with a Tyler mount on each skid, permitting two extra people, such as Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team members, to ride outboard. The helicopter will have a Goodrich hoist as well as a Bambi bucket to combat small brush and grassland fires. It will not be used for medical evacuation.
The helicopter, for its homeland security mission, will have sling-load capacity to carry medicine as cargo to Strategic National Stockpile sites. Twenty of those sites have been selected for the San Antonio area. The slingload is hooked into the same apparatus as the hoist. From the sites, medicine would be distributed in case of an attack.
The police are still being trained in the AS350B3.