In effect, the helicopters will help resource the Ghana Air Force, which will operate them, to protect and support the country’s young petroleum sector.
Described as versatile aircraft, the Z-9EH helicopters, manufactured in China, were procured with a facility from the China Development Bank (CDB).
The manufacture of the aircraft was carried out with the active participation of the GAF to meet specifications.
Their acquisition is one of the sub-projects being implemented by Ghana Gas with funding from the CDB. The others are spare parts, tools, vehicles, training and hangars.
Speaking at the commissioning ceremony at the Air Force Station in Accra, President Mahama described the purchase of the aircraft as another perfect example of Ghana-China relations.
He said the aircraft could provide other services, including riot control, traffic management, disaster management and anti-sea-bound narcotic operations.
Over the years, he said, the GAF had acquitted itself as one of Ghana’s finest institutions and expressed the hope that it would continue to play the expected role in national development with finesse.
He announced that two new CASA aircraft procured by the government for the Air Force would arrive in the country for commissioning in December.
President Mahama thanked the CBD for the support.
The Chief Executive of Ghana Gas, Dr George Sipa Yankey, said the commissioning of the helicopters just a week after the inauguration of the Atuabo Gas Project gave testimony of the determination of the company to meet the task before it.
“As a young limited liability company registered in July 2011, we have successfully implemented a major project as Phase I of the Gas Infrastructure Project.
“It has been a deeply insightful journey executing the gas infrastructure project, against odds of mistrust and disbelief that we could successfully complete it,” he said.
Dr Yankey said the acquisition of the choppers had opened a new chapter in the relationship between Ghana Gas and the security agencies, especially the Ghana Air Force, adding, “It is our hope that this collaboration will provide the opportunity for Ghana Gas to assist to resource the Ghana Air Force with the needed logistics and training.”
He stated that the commissioning of projects by Ghana Gas had not only mitigated the energy challenges being encountered in the country but also saved the nation millions in foreign exchange retention.
Dr Yankey thanked the Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshall Samson Oje, for his exemplary leadership shown during the execution of the sub-project, as well as the officers, men and women of the Ghana Air Force whose tireless efforts contributed to the successful manufacture and test flights of the helicopters.