The South African Police Service received the first two of six Robinson R44s in October, with the remaining four to be delivered by the end of the year, according to the Pretoria News.
The six rotorcraft were ordered as part of an FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup capacity-building program designed to boost the SAPS’s air support capabilities, the service said. Along with being used for standard police activities, they will also be used for monitoring major events such as the Soccer World Cup. The SAPS Air Wing already operates 13 BO105s, two BK117s, 13 AS350 Ecureuils and three MD 500s. At lease five additional BK117s are anticipated to be transferred from the South African National Defence Force early next year, taking the total number of helicopters operated by the SAPS to more than 40.
The SAPS is already using R44s for initial pilot training, with a 100 hr requirement before moving into the turbine-powered helicopters. Use of the six new R44s will allow new pilots to rapidly gain more experience prior to moving into the older, bigger SAPS aircraft.
SAPS, through Armscor (the officially appointed acquisition organization for the South African Department of Defence) purchased the six R44s. Cost for the aircraft was R5 million ($444 million) each and are estimated to cut training time for SAPS police pilots from four years to two- and-a-half years, the department said.