Belize Defence Force Air Wing
Air Wing Belize Defence Force Crest.svg
Air Wing Belize Defence Force Crest
Founded1983; 39 years ago (1983)
Country Belize
TypeAir force
RoleAerial warfare
Part ofBelize Defence Force
HeadquartersPhilip S. W. Goldson International Airport, Ladyville
Motto(s)Latin: Arborem Supervigemus
Insignia
Aircraft marking
Flag of Belize.svg

The Belize Defence Force Air Wing is the aviation branch of the Belize Defence Force. Formed in 1983, it is based at the Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport in Ladyville. The main tasks of the Air Wing are Reconnaissance, SAR, CASEVAC, aerial resupply and troop transport. Furthermore, they assist the police in drug interdiction and anti-smuggling operations, and can be called upon by the Maritime Wing.

History

Two Britten-Norman Defenders (registration BDF-01 and BDF-02) were purchased in Britain and formed the backbone of the air wing for years. The two aircraft could be equipped with light armament, making them the first armed aircraft in Belizean history. The British Forces in Belize maintained a strong position throughout the eighties and it was only in 1990, twelve years after its formation, that three Belizeans took command of the Belize Defence Force as Commandant of BDF, Guard Commander, Commander of Air & Maritime Wing.[1][2]

The Air Wing had 2 or 3 Ayres Thrush planes that were used for counter insurgency and crop dusting which initially entered service in 1988. One of them may have crashed at some point. They have apparently been placed in storage due to being deemed obsolete.[3] The Air Wing had a Dornier 27 from 1987 to 1990,[4] and also a Beech A90 King Air from 2004 to 2006.[4]

The Belize Defence Force Air Wing is responsible for recovering and storing captured aircraft such as drug planes and helicopters. One such incident occurred in 2015 when a helicopter was reported circling near the border with Mexico in Orange Walk. It was discovered abandoned at around 3:00 pm. The helicopter was a Bell 407 with the registration N607AZ. While it was suspected to be used for drug transportation, no evidence of drugs was found inside. The registration number was unmatched upon searching for it, so it was theorized that it was a fake registration to mislead authorities. If nobody came to claim it, the aircraft would be put into service with the Air Wing. As stated by Brig. Gen. David Jones of the Defence Force, it was unlikely to be claimed.[5] However, no information is available to confirm this.[6]

Through late 2015 and early 2016, two UH-1H helicopters were donated and delivered to the Air Wing from Taiwan, which use registration BDF-11 and BDF-12.[7]

Wednesday, October 28, 2015. BMG: The mysterious Piper Seneca PA23 with registration number N32812 today lies at the Belize Defense Force (BDF) Air Wing Compound at Price Barracks in Ladyville after spending the night at the Belize Municipal Airstrip, heavily guarded by members of the BDF and the Gang Suppression Unit (GSU). According to the FAA Aircraft Registry, the plane is owned by James Stallings of Irvine, California. However up to the time of publishing this article, no one has come forward to claim the aircraft.[8] On June 12, 2021 during a conversation with the news channel new5 live, the commander of the BDF Air Wing mentioned, now have 7 pilots and a team of support and technicians in the air force. The New5 live news channel showed the Piper Seneca PA23 standing in the hangar, with BDF07 marking and color.[citation needed]

Aircraft

Aircraft Origin Type Variant In service Notes
Transport
BN-2 Islander United Kingdom utility 1[9]
Helicopters
Bell UH-1 United States utility UH-1H 1[9]

Accidents

References

  1. ^ "Armed Forces Overviews: Belize". Scramble. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  2. ^ "World Air Forces 1994 pg. 32". flightglobal.com. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Ayres S-2R Turbo Thrush - Belize Defence Force Air Wing - Gallery / XAIRFORCES". www.xairforces.net. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  4. ^ a b Erich. "Belize Defence Force". Aeroflight. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  5. ^ "Mystery Helicopter Found At BZE/MEX Border: Was Chapo In That Chopper?". www.7newsbelize.com. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  6. ^ "Belice de luto por la muerte de la tripulación del helicóptero BDF-11". Defensa. 10 March 2020. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  7. ^ "HeliHub.com Belize Defence Force holds ceremony for two donated UH-1s". helihub.com. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  8. ^ "No-one has claimed abandoned mystery plane". 28 October 2015. Retrieved 25 March 2022.
  9. ^ a b "World Air Forces 2022". Flightglobal Insight. 2022. Retrieved 5 January 2022.
  10. ^ a b Sonneveld, Wim. "Belize Defence Force". www.scramble.nl. Retrieved 10 December 2019.
  11. ^ Griffin, Chyenne (4 May 2007). "JTF-B Soldiers set the standard for foreign aircraft recovery". 12th Air Force.
  12. ^ "Cessna 208 Caravan - Belize Defence Force Air Wing - Gallery / XAIRFORCES". xairforces.net. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  13. ^ < "ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 233322". Aviation Safety Network. 17 October 2020. Retrieved 9 January 2022.