Second international operation this year for Sweden's forest firefighting aircraft
For the second time this year, Sweden's forest firefighting aircraft have been activated for an international operation. Due to severe forest fires affecting several parts of the country, France has requested help via the EU civil protection cooperation, and Sweden has accepted the assignment.
These extensive forest fires are occurring in Brittany in north western France. The request came in on Wednesday evening and the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) was able to start action planning the same night. The two planes departed from Sweden this morning.
This is the first time that MSB has participated in two international operations during the same forest fire season. Just seven days ago, a week-long Swedish operation in the Czech Republic was concluded. The cause of these extensive fires in Europe is the long period of dry weather and high temperatures.
“The area in question in Brittany is one of several that have been hard hit in France and we received indications early on Wednesday that a request could be forthcoming. This European cooperation works very well and demonstrates how EU collective resources are well used. We are proud that we can assist with firefighting, especially considering the extensive support that France supplied to fight forest fires in Sweden in 2018,” says Per Velandia, Head of Unit at the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, Operations Department.
However, the fact that Sweden is sending water scooping aircraft to other countries does not affect the country’s own national preparedness. There are forest fire risks in several parts of the country just now so six helicopters and two airplanes remain on standby.
“Sweden is part of the EU preparedness, in the same way that the EU is part of Sweden's preparedness. We continue to maintain a good level of preparedness nationally with several resources in several parts of the country. As recently as Wednesday, we strengthened our situation with two more helicopters in the northern half of the country, and we are able to increase preparedness with even more resources if necessary,” continued Per Velandia.
Facts - this is what Sweden and MSB are providing
Two AT-802F Fireboss water scooping aircraft with crew have been made available to France through rescEU and the Civil Protection Mechanism. The aircraft has been purchased by MSB with the aim of forming a contingency resource that will function both in Sweden and within the EU.
Since 2020, these aircraft have been included in rescEU and thus form part of the extra protection network of EU resources that are financed jointly in Europe. For this resource to be held in readiness, the EU covers 90 percent of development and preparedness costs. Through MSB, Sweden hosts the resources, develops them and may use them nationally. In cases of EU interventions, the EU finances 75 percent of the operational costs and the recipient country, as a general rule, covers for the remaining 25 percent.
Sweden has been part of rescEU since its inception in 2019 and this is the third time that aircraft resources from Sweden have been activated for operations abroad. Through participation in international operations, preparedness levels in-country are also developed as experience abroad returns to Sweden. A stronger Europe will be the result.
MSB is Sweden's point of contact for the EU civil protection mechanism. Consequently, the agency both receives requests and offers help to countries in need as well as, if necessary, requesting support for Sweden from other countries.