Royal Bahamas Defence Force
In 1973 The Bahamas were granted independence. Pressure from the USA (which has leased two military bases on the islands since the 1950s) forced the Government to introduce stringent measures against drug trafficking, including changes to the islands' banking secrecy laws.
The Bahamas Defence Act of 1979 established the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF), seven years after independence. The headquarters of the RBDF is situated on the south western tip of New Providence island, since November 1992. The Bahamas Defence Company and a Volunteer Force had seen military duty during World War Two, but both were demobilized after the war. Consequently, the RBDF had no immediate military antecedent. This was in contrast to islands such as Jamaica and Barbados that had existing volunteer forces that became an integral part of their defence forces at independence. Increased drug traffic through Bahamian waters and a steady influx of illegal Haitian immigrants had underlined the need for a defence force because of the strain on the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
The RBDF is basically a naval force. The Operations Department contains the mobile arms of the RBDF and comprises several sub-units, like the Air Wing. The Air Wing was formed on 26 November 1981, two years after the creation of the RBDF. Initially three Aero Commanders were operated from Bahamasair, but these were replaced by a Cessna 402 and a Cessna 421. By late 2005, delivery of a King Air 350 took place. In May 2009, a Cessna 208 equipped with floats and a Vulcanair P68 significantly improved the RBDF's capabilities. These aicraft still make up the current fleet of the RBDF.
The Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) provides internal security on The Bahamas and was formed upon independence of the islands. Although considered limited in size in relation to the extensive territory of The Bahamas, the RBPF operates its own Air Support Services Unit. Two Piper PA-31 were impounded and taken into service and have since been replaced by a single Cessna 208.