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POLITICIANS MAY DEBATE the pros and cons of Washington's latest war on drugs, but one thing's for sure: the US State Department's US$1.3 billion contribution to "Plan Colombia" is a bonanza for Texas based Bell Helicopter Textron and its vice president for Latin America, Frank R. King Jr.
Under the controversial program aimed at eradicating Colombian coca fields, Bell -- makers of the famous UH-1H "Huey" military chopper -- will upgrade 42 US government Hueys at a cost of around US$1.2 million each. The US State Department will cover the expense.
The Huey II that results from the upgrade, says King, will last 20 years longer and carry six extra combat soldiers. "Congress felt the Huey II upgrade was a low-cost solution to an immediate problem," King says. "The upgrade is essentially putting commercial parts on the …