LUXEMBOURG – Since early August, Greece has faced devastating wildfires, forcing thousands to evacuate and threating landscapes, natural resources and historical sites in the country. This year is particularly challenging as southern Europe faces one of the hottest summers in decades. The Greek authorities have requested the support of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), who is assisting the Hellenic Fire Brigade with helicopters, pilots, crewmembers and mechanics.
A total of 20 helicopters, 8 heavy lift and 12 medium lift, with different capabilities, have been deployed to different strategic locations. The helicopters remain available during daily operations, supporting actively the firefighters on the ground and providing a strong fire extinguishing capacity (up to 7 tons of water per drop).
"Our contractors are supporting firefighting operations under the direction of the Hellenic Fire Brigade. They have already logged a significant amount of flight time, exceeding as of today 1200 flight hours. They are also conducting several re-stationing to Forward Operating Bases in support of these operations. We remain committed to supporting Greece and we would like to thank all our personnel for their dedication and professionalism in these challenging times", assured Lorenzo Lozano, NSPA Chief of Fixed Wing Aircraft and Helicopter Branch.
NSPA has put into place an overarching Wet Leasing Contract that includes the availability and management of helicopters and personnel involved in firefighting operations. The use of two-size categories of helicopters (heavy and medium) allows crews to operate in remote locations without the need to return to a permanent operating base for water refilling. This reduces the time between successive drops, it maximises the effect to suppress wildfires initiation and prevents the fire getting out of control.