Sikorsky helicopters to combat forest fires
ANKARA - Anatolia News Agency
Turkey is set to use Sikorsky choppers, which are usually considered as military vehicles, against fires.Turkish authorities will use Sikorksy helicopters to fight forest fires, the Turkish Deputy Minister of Forestry and Water Affairs Nurettin Akman has said, noting that an average 3,000 to 5,000 hectares of land were burned each year until 2012, when the number soared to 10,000 hectares.
Speaking to Anatolia news agency, Akman stressed that a large number of forest fires are set deliberately. “This increase was caused due to fires set by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the province of Hatay involving an area of 3,000 to 3,500 hectares. But if you look at Spain, you will see that forest fires affected an area of 200,000 hectares, while in Italy it affected 50,000 to 60,000 hectares. France has similar numbers. So compared to the other Mediterranean countries, we are doing much better,” he said.
Akman said that the number of aircraft will be increased as they plan to buy five American Bell helicopters by 2014 and 20 Sikorsky helicopters before 2020, as the ministry is cooperating closely with the defense industry. Noting the importance of quality equipment and quantity of staff in reducing forest fires, Akman said, “We will use the American Bell helicopters for administrative purposes. In the forthcoming process, as part of studies carried out by the defense industry, a government bid will be put in place. In our fight against forest fires we will use Sikorsky helicopters.”