Spain orders seven DHC-515 Firefighter amphibious aircraft

Gepubliceerd op 2 mei 2024 om 20:48

© Martïn Marrero Hdez | Jetphotos

On 19 April 2024, the Spanish government announced a €375 million upgrade to its fleet of firefighting amphibious aircraft, ordering seven new De Havilland Canada DHC-515 Firefighter amphibious aircraft, two of which will be procured through the European Civil Protection Mechanism. The current fleet of older CL-215T and CL-415 aircraft will also be modernized with European funds.

Established by the European Commission, the European Civil Protection Mechanism fosters cooperation between member states and their readiness to respond to natural disasters. 

In response to concerns about larger and more frequent forest fires around the Mediterranean Basin, the EU has allocated €600 million for the joint procurement of 20 amphibious aircraft, to be operated by France, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. Additionally, Spain will place a supplemental order for five DHC-515s, augmenting Spain’s current fleet of 14 firefighting amphibious aircraft, operated by Grupo 43 of the Ejército del Aire y del Espacio (EAE, Spanish Air and Space Force), based at Torrejón de Ardoz Air Base near Madrid.

This acquisition will significantly upgrade Spain’s aging firefighting fleet, with some airplanes having been in service for several decades. In 2023, the Spanish government retired four of the oldest CL-215T airframes, built in the 1970s and 1980s, and auctioned them off. The new aircraft are expected to be delivered starting from 2027.

The DHC-515 is an evolution of the popular CL-415 and CL-215 family of amphibious aircraft, featuring modernized avionics, nighttime operational capabilities, an additional 1.000 liters of payload, and shorter loading times. Certification for the Firefighter is expected in 2025.

In March of this year, Croatia and Greece announced orders for the new DHC-515. The Government of Croatia ordered two Firefighters worth €105 million, and the Greek Parliament passed a deal to buy seven DHC-515s worth €361 million. Four of the ordered aircraft by the two countries are part of the EU RescEU reserve program, allowing Croatia and Greece to lend them to other EU countries in emergencies.

In November 2022, French President Emmanuel Macron announced the replacement of the existing fleet of twelve CL-415 Super Scoopers with sixteen new aircraft. Although the exact type of the new aircraft was not named, it will likely be the De Havilland Canada DHC-515 Firefighter.

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