Black Hawks to join bushfire fight

·2-min read

An Adelaide-based aviation company has bought two former US military Black Hawk helicopters to bolster Australia's aerial firefighting resources.

Aerotech says the choppers will be a "game-changer" in efforts to combat bushfires across the country in the coming summer.

"Black Hawk helicopters are fast, reliable, can be deployed quickly and drop more than 4000 litres of water per load to contain fires quickly," Managing Director Sam Mr McCabe said.

"Our helicopters will remain in Australia all year round.

"This responds to a key finding of the recent Bushfires Royal Commission that state and federal governments should develop an Australian sovereign aerial fleet.

"It also overcomes the issue of relying on northern-hemisphere based helicopters, which is becoming more problematic as the length of the bushfire season is getting longer in both hemispheres."

Aerotech already provides the majority of South Australia's aerial firefighting efforts and will seek operational contracts across Australia to provide additional capacity in support of existing firefighting aircraft.

The company plans to employ SA pilots, engineers, ground crews and support staff.

"Aerotech is committed to investing in the world's most capable and effective aerial firefighting fleet, and supporting government aerial firefighting strategies," Mr McCabe said.

"We're focused on keeping fires small by deploying aircraft quickly and dropping large amounts of water in the shortest possible time, thereby providing volunteers on the ground with more time to contain and extinguish fires."

BLACK HAWK SPECIFICATIONS:

* Maximum flight speed: 193 knots (360km/h)

* Cruise speed: 140 knots (260km/h)

* Cargo hook capable of lifting 3600 kgs for external load operations

* Main rotor diameter: 16.3 metres

* Overall length: 19.5 metres

* Horsepower: two General Electric GE-701D/CC engines providing 1994 horsepower

* Belly tank capacity: 4000 litres of water or retardant

* Re-fill time using snorkel: 35 seconds

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