Israel considering buying water-scooping aircraft

By
December 8, 2010 06:46

IAF, defense ministry instruct military attachés around world to begin survey of firefighting planes following Carmel fire.

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American Super Tanker firefighting plane

supertanker FOR GALLERY. (photo credit: AP)

The Israeli Air Force and Defense Ministry have instructed their military attachés stationed throughout the world to begin conducting a survey of firefighting aircraft that Israel is considering purchasing following the Carmel Forest fires.

One of the leading candidates is the Bombardier 415 – also known as the Canadair CL-415 – which is made in Canada and is believed to be suitable for Israel since it has the ability to scoop up water from the sea.

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“This would be a good match for Israel, which has a long coastline along the Mediterranean,” one official said.

The 415 can scoop up just over 6,000 liters of water from a nearby water source, mix it with fire retardant chemicals already in its belly and drop it on a fire without having to return to base to refill its tanks like other tankers.

Israel has in the past considered the Bombardier 415, which Greece sent to Israel last week to assist in extinguishing the Carmel Forest fire. About 10 years ago, the plane was brought to Israel for a series of demonstrations over the Mediterranean but was not purchased despite an offer to buy used models from a European country for a few million dollars.

Another possibility is to convert a Boeing 767 into a firefighting aircraft, including the installation of tankers. Any aircraft of this sort would need to land and be refilled in comparison to the 415, which can scoop up water from the sea and can therefore conduct more missions per flight.

Earlier this year, for example, Israel Aerospace Industries converted a Boeing 767 passenger plane into a refueling tanker for the Colombian air force. Another plane that IAI has expertise in converting into different purposes is the Russian-made Ilyushin 76 firefighting aircraft, which can carry close to 50,000 liters but needs to land in an airport to have its tanks filled.


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