An Ilyushin IL-76 equipped as water bomber (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)

Russian Air Forces scramble to fight fire

An Ilyushin IL-76 equipped as water bomber (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)
An Ilyushin IL-76 equipped as water bomber (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)

On direct order of the Minister of Defence, Army General Gergei Shoigy, the military districs of the Russian Armed Forces have formed 80 combined units to assist in the containment and suppression of forest fires. A spokesperson of the Russian Emergency Response Authority (EMERCOM) said on 20 April 2014 the country is facing over 100 wild fires with a combined spread of almost six thousand hectares.

The Russian Army Aviation has equipped more than 30 Mi-8s and six giant Mi-26s with fire-fighting equipment and have trained their crews to use them. Moreover a dozen IL-76MD military transport aircraft have been fitted with water bombing equipment. Four military AN-12s and AN-26s plus five Mi-8s provide search-and-rescue operations and help with evacuations where necessary. So far a dozen aircraft have actually seen fire-fighting action.

Meanwhile the EMERCOM has organised 18,000 people and 5,000 vehicles to help extinguish the fires. EMERCOM is using its entire air fleet as well, consisting of two IL-76s, two BE-200s, two Mi-26s and five Mi-8s. According to released data each aircraft makes up to 15 flights per day, with about 100 air drops in total with over 1,000 tonnes of water.

Source: Russian MoD / EMERCOM

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One of the Mi-8s the Russian Armed Forces have put on fire-fighting alert (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)
One of the Mi-8s the Russian Armed Forces have put on fire-fighting alert (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)