By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Police Department is getting two new, state-of-the-art helicopters, thanks to funding from the federal government.

The police department’s aviation unit expects to receive the two new Eurocopter AS350 B2 (“AStar”) helicopters next summer.

Ed Van Winkle, with the manufacturer American Eurocopter, was in Philadelphia for the 120th annual International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) convention.

“You can do patrol, you can put a hoist on it to do search-and-rescue, which Philadelphia PD will be doing, you can carry SWAT guys in the back seat, you can put them on platforms outside of the aircraft.  You can put a hook on the bottom to lift cargo or to do airborne firefighting.  So it’s really a jack-of-all-trades,” Van Winkle says.

He says the Astars will be fully equipped with cockpits compatible for use with night-vision goggles, “so when they are flying around at night it almost appears that it’s daylight with the goggles that they wear.  It’s very advanced technology.”

The helicopters could also be utilized for homeland security and port security operations .

Van Winkle says there are more than 200 Astar law enforcement helicopters in service nationwide.  American Eurocopter is a Texas-based company with a maintenance facility in Croydon (Bucks County), Pa.

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