Firefighting helicopters | The night flight capabilities of the Sikorsky S-70i FIREHAWK®
Defence Redefined
Published on 11/08/2021 at 10:15

The fires that recently broke out in Greece and Cyprus have proved that one of the main problems the fire service encounters is the lack of aircraft operating at night. 

The lack of visibility, the routes, the terrain and the low altitude greatly increase the degree of danger against these aerial means. Therefore, extinguishing fires during nighttime becomes more difficult – if not impossible – for aerial means and, in turn, the burden of and difficulty in fire extinguishing by ground and motorized forces is significantly increased.

Modern technology, however, has allowed companies to build firefighting equipment with night flight capabilities. Although the governments in Greece and Cyprus have not taken similar action, sources say there are intentions in doing so. It is certain that the purchase of such means is considered imperative since, unfortunately, catastrophic fires in the summer months are common.

Also read: Delivery of the first S-70 helicopter to the Hellenic Navy, following its inspection by AEROSERVICES – Photos

An example of a firefighting helicopter with night flight capabilities is the Sikorsky S-70 FIREHAWK® of the well-known American company Lockheed Martin. The Firehawk is based on the design of the military Blackhawk and is used by the US Fire Department. It can be used for firefighting, rescue and emergency operations such as medical evacuation (MEDEVAC).

S-70 FIREHAWK Specifications

  • External water tank capacity: 3.7 tons
  • Tank filling time: 60 seconds
  • Maximum flight range: 2.5 hours
  • Maximum cruise speed: 268 km / h
  • Maximum number of fully-equipped fire crew: 13

The latest version of the S-70i FIREHAWK® helicopter offers improved maneuverability and flight safety with up to 4 g maneuverability at full payload. It also features a stronger airframe and greater water drop control.


The ability to use night vision goggles and the FLIR system, in combination with the design of the helicopter based on a military prototype, makes it particularly useful in emergencies where the extent of fire and the inaccessible terrain hinder the work of air and ground forces. 

The helicopter in question (version S70i) has already joined the fleet of both the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), Los Angeles County and the San Diego Fire Department.

Certainly, regardless of the type of aircraft with night firefighting capabilities considered by the authorities in Cyprus and Greece, it is self-evident that the personnel must be fully trained.   

After all, the higher the level of danger of the mission, the greater the responsibility of the competent authorities to provide not only the necessary support in logistics, but also appropriate training to the everyday heroes who strive to protect human lives, nature and the property of our fellowmen.

Also read: Fully operational KAMOV helicopters – “Our wish is that we need them as little as possible!” – VIDEO




Pin It on Pinterest

Share This