Border enforcement helicopters to be built in Mississippi
By Steven Gagliano
U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), a member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, has announced the award of a $59.1 million contract to procure Mississippi-produced Light Enforcement Helicopters (LEH) for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) contract is for the delivery of nine LEH aircraft, with an option for a tenth helicopter. With the option, the total contract is valued at $65.7 million. The LEH aircraft, used for border surveillance and law enforcement missions, will be manufactured at the Airbus plant in Columbus.
“Illegal activity on our borders is a continuous challenge, and these helicopters are valuable tools used by Customs and Border Protection to secure the border,” Hyde-Smith said. “This contract will allow talented aircraft manufacturers in Mississippi to play a key role in recapitalizing the LEH fleet.”
At a Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in May, Hyde-Smith advocated the award of existing funding to procure new aircraft to strengthen the CBP helicopter fleet, which has been diminished by aging airframes and accidents.
The contract, which draws from FY2017 and FY2018 appropriations, will entail designing, building, installing, testing, and certifying the aircraft for CBP use.
The Department of Homeland Security approved a similar contract in July 2018, with $45.9 million allotted to procure seven LEH produced in Mississippi’s Golden Triangle Region.