For the first time in Israel’s history, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) deployed a “Shimshon” C-130J Super Hercules aircraft to fight fires.
The Super Hercules flew over the Jerusalem Hills on Tuesday afternoon and on dropped 16 tons of fire retardant as part of the consorted effort by Israel’s rescue forces to put out the wildfires in the area.
The project to use the massive plane to fight fires is still in its pilot stages, and the decision to deploy the plane was made after a joint situational assessment with the IDF, Israeli Police, and Israeli Fire and Rescue Services.
If crowned a success, the deployment of the Hercules aircraft is expected to double Israel’s airborne firefighting capabilities.
The IDF’s support in fighting the fires also included Home Front Command firefighters, IAF aircraft providing a real-time situational image of the fires, and soldiers from the IDF Search and Rescue Brigade.
The IAF’s Airborne Combat Search-and-Rescue Unit 669 performed evacuations.
The forest fires that raged in area around Jerusalem have been placed under control after two days of burning, fire authorities announced Tuesday evening.
Residents of all the towns of the area were allowed to return to their homes.
The fires had been suppressed after 52 hours of continuous firefighting. 204 fire crews comprising of some 1,500 firefighters took part in the operation. Firefighters also used 20 firefighting aircraft. The air squadrons released 190,000 liters of flame inhibitor and 516,000 liters of foam in 206 sorties comprising 238 flight hours.
About 25,000 dunams of forests and greenery were consumed by the flames, believed to be ignited by arsonists.