Chapter 19 Atrato — Copy

“2009 was one of the best year’s ever,” declared Allen. “We are making a difference.”

In 2009, the Coast Guard and federal partner agencies prevented more than $5-billion in illegal drugs from entering the United States. Guardians worked closely with partners including the Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Tampa, Fla. in apprehending more than 300 drug runners, more than 175 tons of cocaine and in excess of 35 tons of marijuana. Click here to read more on 2009 drug seizure statistics and click here for the most up to date drug seizure numbers from 2010.

fence guiana air base

Col Jean-Paul Besse, commander of the air base, explains that French airspace policy applies in the region, and it is a priority for the overseas territory to have a quick reaction air capability should it be required.

In mainland France four quick reaction bases can deploy two fighters – either the Dassault Mirage 2000 or Rafale – within 7min of notification.

“This gives us a strategic advantage. We have the same capability here – we’re in France and protecting airspace is the priority,” Besse tells Flightglobal.

The reaction time is not quite as quick in French Guiana, as it is primarily helicopters that are based in the country. However, if required, fighters can be called up from France and arrive within 8h under Operation BUBO.

“Any time we need more aircraft and need to extend the area of operations I ask for one [Boeing] E-3F and four fast jets,” Besse says. This provides a four- to five-time increase in capability against threats in the territory.

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