The Royal Australian Navy is preparing for the coming bushfire season with MRH90 helicopters and crews are currently training to use the underslung ‘Bambi bucket’ for water bombing operations.
The bucket can be filled in seconds with up to 1,590 litres of water and can deliver water to fire flashpoints with pin point accuracy.
Commander Adrian Capner, Commanding Officer of 808 Squadron said that once the crew complete their training they will be able to respond over the holiday season.
“808 Squadron is currently designated the operational response squadron for the upcoming Christmas period and bushfire season,” Commander Capner said. We are working hard to train and qualify our crews to ensure they are prepared. We also have the ability to evacuate people from areas under threat if needed, he added. Navy has six MRH90 helicopters, which we’re currently putting through their paces as they undergo operational test and evaluation to validate key capability milestones. The high tech aircraft are part of a joint capability shared between Army and Navy. In Navy we will primarily employ them as maritime support helicopters for ships. This includes support to boarding operations, aero-medical evacuation and search and rescue”.
Last year, Navy’s Seahawks from 816 Squadron were on standby to support bushfire fighting efforts, if needed. While they weren’t called on last year, Navy’s Fleet Air Arm has been called on in times of need. During the 2003 ACT bushfires, Navy Seahawks helped fight fires and protect property in Canberra, just as the venerable Sea Kings did in Sydney in 2002.
Press Release; Image: Royal Australian Navy