(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
The Defense Ministry has signed an NIS 450 million deal with the defense firm Elbit Systems to supply and operate six new firefighting planes over the next eight years.
The contract signed with Elbit brings the total number of firefighting planes in the Elad squadron to 14. The squadron was founded after the 2010 Carmel forest fire, during which Israel had to ask foreign countries to send firefighting planes to help put out the blaze, which killed 44 people. The squadron is named after Elad Riben, the teenage volunteer firefighter who died in the Carmel fire.
The tender for the first 8 planes was also won by Elbit Systems.
The Defense Ministry said that the new planes will double the number of flight hours for Israel’s firefighting aircraft, and beginning in December 2015 will be operated by the Public Security Ministry.
The planes, manufactured by Air Tractor, can fly for three hours without refueling and carry 3,000 liters of water, Elbit Systems said in a press release on Monday.
Elbit Systems said that the planes will be flown by pilots from the company CHIMNIR, which will be provided by Elbit as well.