Since the beginning of 2021, Mil and Kamov helicopters produced by enterprises within the Russian Helicopters holding company have taken part in firefighting operations in more than 10 countries in Asia, Europe and Latin America. In particular, Russian-made helicopters were used in India, South Korea, Thailand, Croatia, Argentina, Spain, China, Georgia, Indonesia, Mexico and Chile.
South Korea is the largest operator of the Russian Ka-32, which is the main helicopter for fighting forest fires in the country. More than 50 helicopters of this type are operated by the Korea Forest Service, Air Force, Coast Guard and private companies. According to the Korea Forest Service, 13 of its 29 Ka-32 helicopters were used in firefighting in North Gyeongsang Province this January. The helicopters were deployed after a series of forest fires occurred in the area of Ochon-ri, Changsu-myeon.
Since early February, the Ka-32 helicopter has also spearheaded aerial firefighting operations in Kor, Li, Hod and Lamphun in Thailand. Heavy fog, cold mornings and hot afternoons accumulate a large amount of dust and smog, which covered a number of cities in the province of Chiang Mai. While operating in the area, Ka-32 helicopters have extinguished over 19 fires, using a total of 57,000 litres of water. In addition to water bombing from an external sling to extinguish fires, Ka and Mi helicopters are operated in Indonesia to carry out air patrols and water transport. In turn, the Mi-17V-5 helicopter was deployed to extinguish a fires at the Shirui heights in northeast India.
China is already actively fighting seasonal fires with a fleet consisting of Ka-32s, and also the heavy lifting Mi-26. The Mi-26 was able to quickly extinguish a forest fire on the outskirts of the city of Xichang in the Sichuan province, which could have engulfed nearby villages.
The Mexican Secretariat of the Navy has announced the completion of an exercise aimed at protecting the environment and natural resources. During the exercise, the naval forces practiced extinguishing fires using Mi-17 helicopters, which earlier this year already took part in similar operations in Sierra de Arteaga and continue to operate in the municipality of Santiago in Nuevo Leon. At the same time, Ka-32 helicopters carried out three days of firefighting operations in the Lago Penuelas in Chile and put out a fire in Ranedo de Curueño, Castile and León in Spain.
“Our vehicles are versatile, suitable for rescue operations on land and at sea, for delivering cargo and fighting fires,” says a Rostec spokesperson. “They are able to work in difficult climatic conditions and in high mountain conditions; this is why they are loved by customers in different regions of the world. In the near future, the line of firefighting helicopters will be expanded to include the Ansat, which is currently being tested with an external sling. After certification of this option, the Ansat will also be able to be used to combat fire using a spillway device.”