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SEA KING gets to the civvies the rough way

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  • SEA KING gets to the civvies the rough way
    Western Australia fights fires with Fire King
    By Kate Sarsfield

    The state of Western Australia is trialling a Sikorsky S-61 Fire King water-bombing helicopter during the current fire season.

    The helicopter, which was supplied by Perth-based Helicopters Australia from Carson Helicopter Services in the USA, has a water capacity of almost 4,000 litres (1,060USgal)- four times the amount carried by any helicopter type previously used in WA.

    It is capable of being refilled in 30sec and is better able to penetrate the tree canopy than anything used before, according to the state government. The helicopter can carry 15 firefighters, has a 830km (450nm) range and a 3.5h endurance with 30min reserve.

    The Fire King, which was recently used to fight the fires in California, will be used to fight fires across the state of WA, along with four Eurocopter Squirrel AS350 helitacs, an air intelligence helicopter and the Department of Environment and Conservation's (DEC) eight fixed-wing water bombers - two Air Tractor 802s, two Air Tractor 602s and four PZL M18A Dromaders. The DEC also uses a Champion Scout spotter aircraft for aerial surveillance during bombing operations.

    The state government has provided A$1.3 million ($1.1 million) for the trial, with the federal government providing A$900,000 through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre, which is the central body established by the government and states to nationally co-ordinate the leasing and allocation of aerial firefighting resources.
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