“Elad Riven” in a memory of the teenage Fire Scout volunteer killed in the Carmel Fire, the fire-fighting squadron completed its first training exercise April 26, 2011. At this time, the Israeli AT-802s became the property of Elbit System’s subsidiary Snunit Aviation Services and received Israeli markings in the form of a squadron logo on the tail and new civil registrations. Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Rami of the Israeli air force, the purpose of the “Elad” unit is to command, prepare, control and monitor aerial fire-fighting missions. The squadron uses two bases: Meggido airfield in northern Israel where three land-based and two amphibian AT-802s are based; and Hartzlia airport in central Israel that is home to two land-based AT-802s. Early 2011 NASA’s predictions that summer would be hell-hot were correct when August 2011 became one of the hottest months ever in Israel since 1767. A month earlier, Israel was faced with a wildfire, again. Unlike December 2010, Israel was ready with its AT-802s. July 17 a large wildfire erupted in the Jerusalem Forest moving within three hours to only several hundred meters from Israel’s Holocaust memorial, Yad Vashem, requiring evacuation of the 45-acre campus. Reaction was prompt and very professional – around 200 firefighters organized in 37 teams supported by four AT-802s. The quick scrambling of the planes in combination with their continuous bombardment of the blaze brought the wildfire under control. The commander of the Israeli air force fire-fighting squadron defined the fire as a “complex event”. The AT-802s were over the flames within 40 minutes of the fire’s outbreak. They carried out rapid sorties, assuring there was a plane over the forest every five minutes. “The smoke gave police and firefighters on the ground a lot of trouble. The AT-802s made a significant contribution to reducing that”, said Lieutenant Colonel Rami. “This is an event that could have continued well into the night had it not been for our AT-802s.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked “Elad” squadron for its success in battling the blaze and demonstrating high-level of competency and readiness for performing Routine Security Measures (RSM), especially with the help of the AT-802s.. The Carmel Fire was very painful for Israel and was the spark that opened the eyes of local politicians that the Israeli air force was in a need of a new and unique kind of weapon – a specialized aerial platform for fighting fires. That new weapon has been identified and procured – the Air Tractor AT-802. Indeed, the AT-802 fleet demonstrated to be a game changer for Israel, helping the small country finally and effectively overcome an obvious shortage of nation-owned aerial means for fighting fires. More importantly, it helped Israel to become a self-sufficient country in terms of fighting wildfires. Now, instead of depending on other countries’ help, Israel is in a position to help those in a need of fighting fires by air.]]>