The Aerial Firefighting Unit hopes to expand cooperation with other formations
Aerial Firefighting Units fight fire around the world
Tal Michael & Shir Golan
After the 2010 Carmel Mountain disaster, no one waited for god’s hand to intervene; a new organized and professional Aerial Firefighting Formation was established.
The responsibility was assigned to the IAF: In 2011, the aerial firefighting unit was founded. Eight ‘Air-Tractor 802’ aircrafts landed in Israel. They contain 3100 liters of liquids and have the ability to project it on various locations. A year after the unit was established, it managed to fight 240 fires, participated in 1,743 operational takeoffs and logged 755 flight hours.
The aerial firefighting unit aspired to gain more experience and professionalism, hoping to train with other firefighting aerial units from around the world and assist with containning fires in foreign countries. “Greece, for example, is an important country that we want to train with and learn from”, explains commander of the Aerial Firefighting Unit, Lieutenant Colonel Rami. “We invited them for combined training in Israel and they accepted the invitations. I believe that after this sort of operation we’ll be able to upgrade our capabilities”.
The southern area of France is one of the most popular and elite vacation spots during the warm summer seasons. Hundreds of citizens of the freezing European north flock to bask in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and tan in the hot sun.
Unfortunately, Southern France is one of the forested and flammable areas in France and Northern Europe. The French Aerial Firefighting Unit faces fires using 23 aircrafts and over 100 pilots and aerial team members that are specially qualified in schools of the rescue and firefighting academies.
Besides putting out fires, the formation participates in activities to prevent the fires. The unit spreads elements that prevent the spreading of the flames in many forested areas in southern France and significantly succeeded in decreasing the scope of activity hours during the past decade. The formation gains flight hours beyond the sea as well: During the Carmel Mountain fire, France sent three large airplanes and tons of fire depressing chemicals of the best qualities to Israel.
In Greek mythology, fire had a place of honor. To this day, the Greeks have to deal with the burning forces of nature which is why they built one of the most powerful firefighting formations in the Middle East. The Greeks have established three main aerial firefighting formations that are controlled by the air force and are deployed around the country.
The first one is Formation 359 which operates on PLZ-M18 (camels) airplanes. These aircrafts, much like the Israeli firefighting airplanes, have a ‘hunch’ (cockpit) which is where they received their name.
Formation 355 operates on more than 20 CL-215s. The third and last formation is also the newest–‘Proteus’ is named after the mythological god of the seas, and was established only a few years ago, already logging thousands of flight hours. It operates on CL-415, the older brother of the CL-215 which is known to Israelis as the yellow airplane sent during the Carmel Mount fire.
No doubt about it, everything is big in this state. The tallest towers, largest and widest wild fields accompany the largest fires. Every summer, giant flames consume a large part of the dry areas in Los Angeles. Every year they threaten the horrified citizens that live nearby. The State of California has a firefighting formation and as expected–it is huge.
Through the years, the large formation used many kinds of helicopters and airplanes–starting with small firefighting airplanes (like the Greeks), the CH-53 helicopter and Cobras, and ending with large jet planes. The state of California’s Aerial Firefighting Unit is large enough to send assisting airplanes to various states and countries around the world, and lately sent a large McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 to put out a fire in Arizona.
In conclusion. the unit uses 50 airplanes and when in need annexes airplanes from different armies. The super tanker, by the way, was sent from California to assist Israel in Mount Carmel. The large aircraft belongs to the American company Evergreen but is stored in an L.A Airport, ready to takeoff to anywhere around the world.