Oct 16, 2021
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The Be-200 squadron will flood the fire at the first call of Turkey, while Yakutia is burning

In the photo: Be-200ES aircraft of the RF Ministry of Emergency Situations during extinguishing forest fires

In the photo: Be-200ES aircraft EMERCOM of the Russian Federation during extinguishing forest fires (Photo: Mikhail Pochuev / TASS)

In Russia on behalf of Vladimir Putin a firefighting flight squadron will be created. The squadron will include 22 aircraft: ten Be-200ES aircraft, ten Ka-32A11M helicopters and two Mi-26T helicopters. RIA Novosti reports on the elaboration of such a task.

The costs of creating the squadron will be paid by the NWF. It will be maintained by Rostec. It is the head of the state corporation Sergey Chemezov expressed in October 2020 the idea to create a squadron of Be-200 amphibious aircraft to extinguish natural and man-made fires, including abroad.

Russian Be-200 and Mi-8 helicopters performed well in extinguishing fires in southern Turkey this summer. According to media reports, Ankara paid up to $ 24 million for the aid. The operation was overshadowed by the disaster of one of the aircraft, in which high-class Russian pilots were killed.

True, Turkey’s assistance with Be-200 aircraft caused a certain irritation within Russia, where forests were also burning. It is especially strong in Yakutia. After the situation became unbearable, the authorities transferred the Be-200 to Eastern Siberia. The fires were successfully extinguished.

It is noteworthy that both in Turkey and in Yakutia, Be-200 aircraft belonging to the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Emergency Situations – specialized departments were used. The newly created squadron will have a different subordination. Why? Is it more convenient for Rostec to make money on the foreign market?

Editor-in-chief of the portal Roman Gusarov considers the initiative to be the right decision.

– The specialized helicopter Ka-32, of course, can extinguish top fires using a basket, like the Mi-8 (its carrying capacity is larger), but its unique feature is that, thanks to the coaxial propellers and compact dimensions, the Ka-32 can effectively extinguish fires in urban environments. Especially in high-rise buildings, where fire escapes do not reach. He can spray water from a water cannon directly into the window.

The fire-fighting Be-200, though not the only such aircraft in the world, is also unique in its own way. It is a jet, not a turboprop, it can collect up to 12 tons of water in planing mode from the surface of the water area. At one time, the Be-200 was certified abroad with a view to sales, but its acquisition by other countries was hampered by one insurmountable issue – economic inefficiency.

“SP”: Explain, please …

– For a separate country to buy one or two Be-200 aircraft and keep them for years in case of emergency is difficult, expensive and ineffective. It’s another matter if there is a squadron in the world specializing in the provision of fire-fighting services … You have to understand that when planes fly to another country to extinguish a fire, someone pays for it anyway. So it is more profitable for any country to order firefighting for professionals with qualifications and experience.

The fire fighting squadron can operate according to the scheme that exists on the world market of large-sized air transportation by An-124 Ruslan aircraft. Two airlines, Volga-Dnepr and the Ukrainian Antonov, cover the needs of the entire globe. Nobody will buy such planes, because the need for such transportation is one-time. These companies are loaded with orders precisely because they work everywhere, and not in a separate country.

Therefore, it really makes sense to create a special squadron, not a commercial company, namely as part of a state corporation, the same Rostec, to have a separate base, technical equipment, trained specialists and, at the request of various countries and according to their own needs, fly to different parts of the planet to fulfill tasks. Great solution! I’m sure they won’t sit without work.

SP told about the importance of the newly created squadron for the successful extinguishing of fires in the Russian forests Chief Researcher of the Institute of Forest Science of the Russian Academy of Sciences Andrey Sirin

– No concrete solution can solve the problem of burning forests. It is complex. The firefighting squadron being created will complement the existing firefighting structures. First of all, this is Avialesokhrana, which is engaged in extinguishing fires in forests. In addition, this is the Ministry of Emergency Situations, whose responsibilities include settlements and infrastructure.

Previously, fire protection was still in local territorial entities: rural settlements, collective farms, state farms. Often they were the ones who solved the most important task – the detection and localization of fires in the first hours. In this sense, firefighting squadrons are secondary – they complement, serve to strengthen territorial firefighting structures.

An analogy can be drawn with fighting a pandemic. A ventilator is a last resort. It is needed, but it is better not to bring it to that. So is the fire-fighting aviation.

“SP”: The fact that the squadron will be subordinate to “Rostec”, and other firefighting structures have their own chiefs, will not interfere with the fight against fires?

– Each department has its own advantages and disadvantages. With the right management, coordination can exploit the advantages of each structure, not the disadvantages. Therefore, there is nothing wrong with diversification across different departments. Especially considering the attention now being paid to the problem of fires. Unfortunately, only after the country burned a lot.

All this is on time, because the threat and frequency of fires will only grow in the future. The climate is changing objectively. And since our country is large, there will be fires somewhere every year. But you should not rely only on fire-fighting aircraft and helicopters. Work with the population, prevention is much more important. The overwhelming majority of outbreaks are caused by people, not lightning.

There are no fires in Finland now. There are very few fires in Belarus. Although the climatic conditions there are like in Russia. The reason is in the behavior of the population. But you have to live with this and mobile firefighting forces that can be transferred from region to region will be very useful. Moreover, the absurd requirements to announce a tender for the transfer of forces and equipment have finally been canceled.

SP: Isn’t it absurd to put out fires in Turkey, in Greece, when the forests are burning at home – in Yakutia?

– This is a demonstration of our technologies. You always need to help your neighbors. Moreover, 1-2 Be-200 planes, which were sent to Turkey, will not do the weather. And the indirect effect of their work may be more valuable than reducing the potential for fire extinguishing within the country. In Soviet times, when we had the best forest protection in the world, ours put out fires, for example, in Provence. It has always been.

We lose much more because of the organizational mess, mistakes. The forestry management system, forest protection in Russia has been created since pre-Petrine times. And taking into account our spaces, it was very, very good. And it was taken and liquidated by adopting the Forest Code in 2005. Now, thank God, they are being recreated, but this requires additional funds and time.

The main conclusion: any measures taken to fight fires, including the specialized squadron being created now, are good, but only an integrated approach will give the full effect.

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