Eliminating Illegal Drug Flights Over the Dominican

With the help of an instructor pilot from Air Forces South, the Dominican Republic has essentially eliminated the number of illegal drug trafficking flights over its skies. “The US investment in the Sovereign Skies Program has yielded impressive results, a reduction of an average of 130 illicit air tracks per annum to zero illicit air tracks in more than three years,” states an Aug. 28 release. Then-Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Mike Torrealday was an F-16 pilot at Luke AFB, Ariz., who helped train the Dominican forces in their A-29B Super Tucanos in an initiative called Sovereign Skies, which officials say continues to be effective. It was formed by US, Colombian, and Dominican forces to “share best-practices on procedures to detect, track, and intercept illegal drugs moving north from South America,” states the release. With the aircraft equipped with infrared and night-vision gear, “the A-29s have aided in multiple sea-based intercepts resulting in the capture of an estimated 2,000 pounds of illegal substances worth upwards of $22.5 million,” states the release. The Dominicans hope to continue training with the US until they have 12 pilots and four instructors to “maintain this level of operational capability on their own with their instructors,” said Torrealday. The concept of Sovereign Skies “can be used as a template for other countries within the region” since this is not just an issue for one country, he said.