The Kentucky State Police expanded its aircraft fleet at no upfront cost to taxpayers by acquiring a former U.S. Air Force jet through a military surplus program.
The 1984 Learjet 35 is now the newest aircraft owned by KSP. The plane has been valued at $1 million.
Justice and Public Safety Secretary J. Michael Brown said the state will incur some costs to convert the plane from military to commercial use, including navigation and radio systems, inspections and pilot training.
“By registering with the surplus program and moving quickly when this opportunity became available, state police was able to procure an asset that would have otherwise been impossible, but that will have significant long term benefits for the Commonwealth,” Brown said.
As part of the state police aircraft fleet, the plane will be used to respond to situations across the Commonwealth that require specialized teams to be moved into place quickly, such as a hostage negotiation team. The plane will also be used by the executive branch from time to time as the need dictates, including for economic development purposes.
The plane is quicker and more efficient for flying longer distances, Brown said. It won’t replace the state’s 1972 King Air airplane, but can be used when “mission appropriate,” such as longer distances or when time is a consideration.
Because of the relative low number of hours on its engines and other major mechanical systems, the aircraft won’t need any significant maintenance for 10 years, according to Capt. Brandon Hammers, head of KSP’s Aircraft Support Branch.
The plane was acquired through a program of the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO), established by the U.S. Department of Defense through the Defense Logistics Agency. It allows law enforcement agencies to obtain surplus military weapons, tactical vehicles, aircraft and other equipment for any bona fide law enforcement need at no cost.