In 2011 Israel first contracted for seven single engine air tankers, Air Tractor AT 802s, supplied by Elbit Systems and Chim Nir Flight Services. Now they are adding to the fleet and will have a total of 14.
Elbit Systems announced on January 5, 2015, that it was awarded an approximately $100 million contract from the Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMOD) to procure six new firefighting aircraft and operate the firefighting squadron, which will consist of a total of fourteen aircraft, including eight aircraft previously procured by Elbit Systems. The contract, to be performed over an eight-year period, also covers flight hours, infrastructure upgrade, maintenance, airstrip operation, handling of fire retardants and other aspects of operating the squadron.
The firefighting aircraft, manufactured by Air Tractor, are single-engine aircraft, capable of carrying approximately 3,000 liters (792 US gallons) of water and flying three hours without refueling.
Bezhalel (Butzi) Machlis, President and CEO of Elbit Systems commented: “We are very proud to be selected for this opportunity to harness our professional capabilities and vast experience to the collective efforts of protecting Israel’sresidents and natural landscape”.
The Elad firefighting squadron was founded four years ago following the Mount Carmel forest fire and is named after Elad Riben, the fire scout that was killed in this fire. Since then, Elbit Systems has been cooperating with the IAF, firefighting units, the Jewish National Fund and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority in developing the squadron’s operational procedures and qualifying designated airstrips. The aircraft will be flown by CHIM-NIR’s pilots, the project’s subcontractor.
Since its inauguration in 2011, the firefighting squadron has performed over 4,600 missions, accumulated over 2,500 flight hours and has helped extinguish over 500 potentially destructive fires across the country, providing a prompt and professional solution.
Elbit Systems is developing a system for fighting wildfires by dropping small bags of liquid from a helicopter or cargo plane. The idea is that the bags would break upon impact and slow the spread of the fire.