Russia sent two Be-200ES amphibious jets to Turkey on Tuesday to help contain forest fires in the country. The agreement between the two nations foresees that the aircraft will be used in the next four months, during the summer in the northern hemisphere, in the regions of Antalya, Izmir and Bodrum.
“The Be-200 is an amphibious aircraft designed to save people, wildlife, and infrastructure objects. The mission of this multifunctional machine is to be at the forefront, to help in the most difficult situations,” said Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation Oleg Bocharov.
Manufactured by Beriev, one of the companies controlled by UAC (United Aircraft Corporation), the Be-200ES is currently the only amphibious jet in production in the world. It is capable of carrying 12 tons of water and has the advantage of recharging its compartment in lakes in just 14 seconds. Thanks to this, it is possible to release about 270 tons of water per hour, depending on the location of the fire.
To operate in the water, the Be-200ES has its two turbofan engines installed on supports at the top of the fuselage. The aircraft, which is similar in size to an Airbus A319, can fly at a speed of 700 km/h over distances of up to 1,800 km with maximum payload.
The aircraft has been certified since 2003 in Russia and received authorization from EASA (European Civil Aviation Authority) in 2010, including the transport of up to 43 passengers on medium-haul routes.
The Be-200 has been used in several fire-fighting missions in other countries such as Portugal, France, Greece and Israel. Despite this, the amphibious jet has had few customers so far. It is estimated that 18 aircraft were built, all at the service of the Russian government with the exception of one unit, operated by Azerbaijan.
A year ago, UAC announced that it would start producing aircraft to the United States and Chile costumers, two countries affected by forest fires. California’s Seaplane Global Air Services closed a deal for 10 aircraft and Chilean Asesorias SVR Ltda for another seven Be-200s. The first units were expected to be delivered between 2020 and 2021.