Viver, Spain – The countries of Slovenia and Turkey are joining nations worldwide in strengthening their firefighting capabilities to combat increasingly frequent, dangerous, and destructive wildfires. The Republic of Slovenia recently took delivery of two Air Tractor AT-802F single engine air tankers (SEATs) to improve its aerial fighting capabilities, according to Slovenian defense minister Marjan Šarec.
The first AT-802F arrived in May, followed by a second in June. The airplanes were purchased from Air Tractor Europe, based in Viver, Spain. The two land-based airplanes will be converted to amphibious air tankers later in 2023. Šarec said two additional 3,100-liter capacity AT-802F amphibious “Fire Boss” air tankers will be delivered in 2024. The aircraft purchase agreement also includes an option to purchase two additional airplanes.
Air Tractor Europe Executive Director (CEO) Rafael Selma said the Slovenian’s choice to purchase the Air Tractor firefighting airplanes was based upon their efficiency and effectiveness in the field. “Air Tractor AT-802F aircraft are the dominant fixed wing firefighting aircraft; any other option is less efficient. They are the most ideal solution, ahead of helicopters,” Selma added.
The purchase is co-financed (85%) by European cohesion policy funds for the period 2021-2027. The Slovenian project now focuses on completing the airplane acquisitions and establishing an OEM-backed training and logistical system. These URSZR (Administration of the Republic of Slovenia for Protection and Rescue) airplanes operating under the authority of the Slovenia Ministry of Defense will become part of the common aerial firefighting fleet of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (rescEU).
Meanwhile in Ankara, Turkey, the Ministry of Defense with the participation of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Prof. Dr. Vahit Kirişci, attended a ceremony in May celebrating the expansion of the country’s aerial firefighting fleet. The country recently purchased 20 Air Tractor AT-802F air tankers, one T70 helicopter, and a reconnaissance aircraft. Minister Kirişci stated that Turkey is undertaking a coordinated effort in all areas of forest management, fire prevention, and response.
Turkey purchased a total of 15 amphibious “Fire Boss” and five land-based AT-802F single engine air tankers. Four of the Air Tractor firefighting aircraft were present at the ceremony. The remaining 16 aircraft will be added to the fleet during the next three years.
With the new aircraft purchases, the country’s total investment for the aerial firefighting fleet reached $286 million and 104 aircraft. By providing infrastructure and equipment, Turkey plans to reduce response times and become a model of rapid response to wildfires. Noting that the country took a revolutionary step with the reform of forestry laws, Kirişci said, “With the legislative change, we will see very positive changes both in agriculture and forestry in the coming period.”
Rafael Selma reports that Air Tractor Europe will provide training, maintenance, parts, and on-site technical support for the airplanes. “Our mission is to provide our customers with the most advanced technological solutions to ensure they are able to carry out their activities with a guarantee of quality, safety and efficiency.”
More than 1,000 Air Tractor AT-802 series aircraft have been built since 1992. The airplanes are successfully operated by governments and private operators in the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Sweden, Israel, Cyprus, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece, and Saudi Arabia — and now Slovenia and Turkey.