Air Force to hire “wider range of aircraft types to fight wildfires”

Wildfire risks this summer will be “more demanding” than last year

With the wildfire risks this summer acknowledged as being more challenging than they were last year, the Air Force has been authorised to hire a wider range of aircraft types than originally envisaged.

The ministry of defence explains this is largely due to the scarcity of light helicopters and heavy ‘water bomber’ aircraft available on the European market.

Thus, this summer DECIR (Special unit for Combating Rural Fires) needs to improvise.

According to the defence ministry, “it is only a matter of extending the types of aircraft that can be hired”.  

The new authorisation won’t change the amount of money available (€113.8 million has been approved for the rental of aerial fire fighting means for the period 2023-2025).

DECIR is counting on 34 aerial resources for the period May 15-31, “but six less than expected are operational”, explains Lusa.

From June 1 to September 30, DECIR should reach 72 air assets12 more than in previous years – but this number has not yet been achieved, mainly due to the ‘scarcities on the market’.

Focus now is on switching to ‘medium helicopters’ (to make up for the lack of light ones available) and two heavy helicopters, to make up for the impossibility of securing  the two water-bombing Canadairs that the Air Force hoped for.

According to a source, the price for hiring Canadairs this year was “twice as high as expected”.

While replacement aircraft are being actively sought, José Luís Carneiro, minister for internal administration has explained that “weather conditions, the drought and above all the wind in the Algarve region” mean that the summer of 2023 “will be a more demanding year from the point of view of forest fires”.

Source: Lusa

Portugal Resident