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Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources obtained four OH58 military helicopters, two that fly and two for parts. The aircraft have been used for wildlife surveys and for search and rescue but are aging. The DNR’s helicopters have been cost-efficient, but larger military aircraft, such as the Blackhawk, cost too much to keep in the air at $700 to $800 an hour, said Thomas Buker, acting chief pilot for the DNR.
“Economic-wise it’s just not a good use of taxpayer dollars,” Buker said.
Need a grenade launcher?
Then there is the Royalton grenade launcher.
The city’s police got it from another agency and Chief Adam Gunderson thought he could transfer it to another department. It could also be used for firing tear gas, but Gunderson said he has never purchased ammunition for it, and no one has come forward to take it off his hands.
The three-officer department in central Minnesota has used the surplus program to obtain more practical equipment, like optics for rifles and three new laptops, all for the cost of shipping. But a bemused Gunderson sees no value in his grenade launcher.
For now, it sits in the department’s gun safe.
“It’s just figuring out what to do with it,” Gunderson said. “The government doesn’t really want it back.”
Mark Brunswick • 612-673-4434