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Queensland Police adds 3 new Bell 429 helicopters

written by Jake Nelson | June 18, 2024

A Bell 429 operated by the Royal Australian Navy. (Image: Defence)

Three new Queensland Police POLAIR helicopters will enter service from next month.

The trio of Bell 429s will be assigned to the South-East Queensland fleet from 3 July, replacing a pair of older helicopters. Two have already arrived, with the third undergoing final testing before delivery, and will allow increased patrol opportunities across the region.

According to Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan, the 429s, first announced two years ago, will offer “vastly improved safety, technology, camera and night vision capabilities”.

“Increasing the SEQ POLAIR fleet by 50 per cent will significantly increase the operational capacity for police, which ultimately means a safer community,” he said.

“The government’s investment in these helicopters is about stopping criminals in their tracks, and ensuring they are brought before the courts.

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“I acknowledge the foresight of QPU President Ian Leavers in advocating for the establishment of this capability over a decade ago.  This capability has changed policing for the better and it’s an essential resource for a contemporary police service.”

The state budget for 2024/25 includes $120 million as part of a ten-year funding arrangement for POLAIR capabilities in southeast Queensland, as well as additional funding of $8.7 million over 10 years to provide additional flight hours to help police “track vehicles, arrest offenders and locate missing persons to enhance community safety”.

Police commissioner Steve Gollschewski said air capability can “significantly enhance police operations and support ground-based personnel”.

“Having the ability to deploy an aerial asset is game changing for a lot of the jobs the QPS attend,” he said.

“The more assistance we can provide our frontline crews, the higher our chances are of resolving critical incidents and keeping the community safe. The three new helicopters are a fantastic addition to the POLAIR fleet.”

In a statement, the state government said the new helicopters are “just the beginning”, with police aerial capability already announced and funded for Townsville, Cairns/Far North and the Sunshine Coast/Wide Bay.

“The initial interim police aerial capability for Townsville is already operational and a tender process is now underway to make this capability permanent,” the statement read.

“Tender processes are also underway for the initial interim police aerial capability in each of the Cairns/Far North and Sunshine Coast/Wide Bay regions.”

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