Israeli Air Force bases in northern Israel received fire fighting planes from European countries. IAF planes helped by delivering supplies of fire retardant material. IAF crews remain at the scene of the biggest forest fire in Israeli history
The IAF continues to provide assistance at the scene of the fire in the Carmel Mt. Starting yesterday, IAF planes have been working to help put out the fire and flying other support missions.
Since last night, the IAF is hosting support teams of fire fighting airplanes that arrived from throughout Europe at the technical base and at the Ramat David base of the IAF.
Soon crews from Greece, Bulgaria, and other countries will land at IAF bases and continue to the site of the fire. IAF crews are already on location at the site of the fire.
A decade ago, “Yasur” helicopter (CH-53) crews of the IAF flew on firefighting missions throughout the world by hanging containers of water on the helicopters, but it was later discovered that the tanks undermined the operational capabilities of the helicopters.
Following the huge summer fires that raged throughout Israel in the eighties, there was a need to purchase six containers from Germany for the “Yasur” helicopter to help fight fires. Since then, light civilian planes from private companies have joined in fire fighting operations as needed. Before the arrival of the tanks, there was already a squadron in operation that worked to put out a large fire in Carmel in 1989.
Two containers from Germany were used and over two days, IAF helicopters and planes flew 85 sorties over the site dropping 425,000 liters of water. Two weeks after the incident, four additional containers arrived. Until 2002, firefighting became a routine task for the IAF and for over a decade the same squadron conducted the firefighting activities for the IAF.
In July of 1997, Israel was asked to help put out a large fire at a munitions factory in Turkey. In 2000, the same squadron was sent to Cyprus and Greece to put out fires. In 2002, IAF helicopters that had participated in firefighting missions landed immediately during a routine night exercise after malfunctions that were later attributed by an investigative team to the many firefighting missions which had damaged the systems of the helicopter. In light of these conclusions, firefighting missions using helicopters were canceled by the IAF.