The Malta Independent 21 January 2019, Monday

Updated: Armed Forces of Malta to have third helicopter after €14 million deal signed

Neil Camilleri Monday, 6 July 2015, 10:58 Last update: about 5 years ago

The Armed Forces of Malta will soon have its third helicopter, as the government has signed a contract for a €14 million deal part of which will be financed by the European Union. The contract was signed last week, Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela announced this morning.

He was speaking during a passing out parade of 70 new AFM recruits, including three women and 14 Gozitans. Originally, 88 recruits had embarked on the 20-week-long basic training course.

The AFM's Air Wing acquired two Augusta Westland AW139 helicopters in the past two years, replacing its ageing Alouette III helicopters. 

Mr Abela also announced that the patrol boat donated by Ireland will be arriving in Malta late next month. An AFM spokesperson said a Maltese crew is currently training on the ship, which is undergoing a refit in Ireland.

The Home Affairs Minister also announced that the AFM is procuring new radio equipment and bulletproof vests for around €250,000.

The government, he said, remained committed to strengthen the ranks of the AFM and provide training. The AFM intends to boost its ranks by another 100 soldiers and a recruitment call will close on 17 July. He urged more women to join up.

 Apart from giving members of the uniformed services the right to join a union, the Establishments have also been revised, giving AFM members more advancement opportunities.

Mr Abela said the investment being made in the AFM is part of its modernisation. An expression of interest for a new Offshore Patrol Vessel will be issued in the coming months. The vessel will be also part-financed by the EU. A strategic plan for the AFM lasting until 2025 has also been drafted and will be put up for consultation with the public and all stakeholders.

The Minister congratulated the new soldiers, noting that they had also raised €16,000 for Puttinu Cares and made 70 blood donations in their free time.

The AFM commander, Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi said millions were being invested in new equipment for the armed forces but this would be worthless if the AFM did not have capable and fully-trained soldiers. He spoke about the career opportunities in the army and said that, wherever they will be posted, the new soldiers will be an asset to the force. 

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