Russian helicopter on a mission to save Spanish forests
Every year, hundreds of thousands of hectares of beautiful Spanish forests disappear. The reason – fire. A combination of the hot, dry climate and human negligence often creates an unstoppable force resulting in a national catastrophe.
But now this fiery element may have met its match. Serving on the frontline for many years, Russian fire-fighting helicopters are considered to be among the best in the world – so it is no surprise that Spain has welcomed their arrival.
“We choose the KA- 32 because we know it from a long time, and we know this is the best helicopter for fire fighting and aerial cargo,” said Antonio Inaer of Helicopter Emergency Services.
“In Spain, fire fighting is a very important market, so I can tell you that the KA- 32 is the star of fire fighting systems that we have,” he added.
The Russian fire fighting helicopter KA- 32 is capable of carrying up to five tons of water. It takes just ten seconds for the crew to fill its huge tank and just 15 seconds to drop it onto a fire. So it is quick, which is extremely important. However, this is not the only feature that makes this Russian model stand out.
Another advantage is its coaxial system. Two rotors moving in opposite directions and no tail rotor makes the machine more stable, ensuring a more accurate drop.
This stability and accuracy also guarantees safety for firemen, both on the ground and in the air. Pilot Alicia Martinez says that even at the epicenter of a fire, with flames reaching the helicopter's keel, she always feels safe.
“It is made in Russia but it works perfectly here in Andalusia,” she said. “It is easy to control, easy to maneuver.”
“It is not afraid of strong winds – when others cannot even take off, it continues to work. It is an ideal helicopter to work in emergency situations,” Martinez added. “As they say – it has gone through fire and ice. First I did not like it, but now it is my favorite.”
Also, pilots say the KA-32 is always the last helicopter to leave a mission area.
“Historically, the KA – 32 has been built based upon the KA- 27, a multi-purpose boat helicopter designed to operate in difficult weather conditions and difficult climates. That is why it is unrivaled in this field, for this particular mission,” said Vyacheslav Kovalev of Russian Helicopters.
Ten Russian KA-32’s are already a feature in the skies over Spain, with two more due to join the ranks of the country’s army and, as the Spanish summer intensifies, their presence could be of critical importance.