Greece announced a plan this week to spend 1.7 billion euros on modernizing the country’s aerial firefighting capabilities in a parliamentary session where Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis floated the plan that was unanimously approved by the government that would see investment made in several Viking Scooper aircraft in addition to increasing the number of available SEAT aircraft and helicopters used during the country’s fire season that has this year burned more acres and caused more damage than any years prior.
“Even before the recent fires, it was within the plans we made to invest in and modernize the capabilities of the Civil Protection Authority,” said Mitsotakis. Greece’s Civil Protection Authority has the responsibility of coordinating the country’s aerial firefighting efforts that include state-owned aircraft and contract aircraft that are brought in every year from the United States, Canada, Russia, and Australia.
During this year’s record fires, Greece made international calls for help that resulted in help from nearby Cyprus, France and Sweden who each sent two aircraft, Croatia and Spain who sent one aircraft with Switzerland and Egypt sending multiple helicopters along with Russia who supplied the not often seen IL-76 waterbombing aircraft. The IL-76 was a military aircraft for many years and several have now been outfitted water bombers. Russia also sent several Mi-8 helicopters and the Beriev BE-200ES scooper aircraft.