Procurement: Fixed Wing MedEvac

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March 16, 2009: Colombia is buying three commercial aircraft for use as medical evacuation aircraft. These include one 5.6 ton, twin engine, King Air 350, and two 4 ton, single engine, 208B Grand Caravans. The 208B has a shorter range (1700 kilometers), but a more spacious cabin (holding four stretchers), compared to 2,700 kilometer range and two stretchers for the 350, plus a speed advantage (460 kilometers an hour versus 260). The 208B was built for the "bush plane" market, and is better able to operate from dirt or grass landing strips.

While these aircraft are intended for military and civilian patients, priority will go to rushing serious combat casualties to hospitals, for advanced care. The Colombian security forces are increasingly operating in remote areas against drug gangs and leftist rebels, and severely wounded troops can often only be stabilized by the mobile medical units that accompany combat units. Thus the need for high speed medical evacuation aircraft. The 350s and 208Bs are widely used for carrying passengers and cargo, and some serve as military reconnaissance aircraft.

 


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