These days, the IAF along with the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Public Security, is paving the way to the unit’s future
In response to the fire, the Aerial Firefighting Unit was established Two years have passed since the Mount Carmel Forest Fire, and the Aerial Firefighting Unit that was established in response prepares for a line of capability improvements, including upgrades to aircraft
In the end of 2010, the largest fire in the history of the State of Israel burned through the Carmel Forest. 25,000 acres burst into flames, millions of trees perished, and 44 lives were lost. Planes from all around the world came aerially assist Israel in putting out the fire, as IAF UAVs scanned the area day and night.
Following the fire, the government rank had decided that the issue of aerial firefighting must be formally organized. The responsibility to carry out that mission was given to the Israeli Air Force, which in the year following established the Aerial Firefighting Unit. The IAF unit functions alongside “Elbit”, the company responsible for purchasing the extinguishing planes, and the “Chim-Nir” company, which headed the operation of the planes and their maintenance.
Coming Soon: New planes, Additional Pilots and Investigation Systems
These days, the IAF along with the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Public Security, is paving the way to the unit’s future. They are preparing for the arrival of new aircraft, the expansion of training hours for the crews and the addition of new pilots to the unit. Additionally, the force is preparing to install new communication and investigation systems on the planes.
“Looking back at the lessons we’ve learned from our activity up until now, we know what gaps we need to bridge in order to provide better operational response”, explained Lieutenant Colonel Rami, Commander of the Aerial Firefighting Unit. “We work in conjunction with the civilian airport authority among others, and everyone knows that the aerial firefighting formation is in a much better place than it was two years ago. We’re not only talking about suitable planes for the missions, but a multitude of correct decisions made come crunch time. Swift arrival at the scenes and in our training”.
Promoting International Cooperation with Greece and Spain
Today, the firefighting unit took off for an operational exercise in the Beit-Shemesh area, in cooperation with the local firefighting and rescue services, as a part of the series of exercises carried out by the unit throughout all seasons of the year. “We’re looking forward”, says Lieutenant Colonel Rami, “learning lessons from the previous season and implementing changes accordingly. The readiness time for planes before they’re ready to take off in the summer months, for example, went from half an hour to 15 minutes. Additionally, we are trying to promote international cooperation with firefighting squadrons from Greece and Spain”.