Air Methods’ United Rotorcraft unit and Sikorsky delivered three new S-70i Firehawk helicopters to separate California fire agencies—the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire), the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD), and the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, the companies announced this week. Sikorsky manufactured the helicopters and United Rotorcraft outfitted them.
The new Firehawks "can attack fires at night, in strong Santa Ana winds, maneuver with agility and safety in canyons and terrain from sea level up to 10,000 feet altitude, while dropping water with tremendous precision and force, said Jason Lambert, vice president of Sikorsky global military and mission systems.
The aircraft can transport up to 12 firefighters, perform rescue operations, and fly fire suppression. They are equipped with a 600-pound external rescue hoist, a 9,000-pound cargo hook with load cell system, forward recognition lights, and a high-intensity searchlight. Avionics installations include tactical communications and navigation systems.
The Fiehawks' fire-suppression system consists of a newly designed 1,000-gallon water tank attached to the belly; extended landing gear to accommodate the tank; and a retractable snorkel than can refill the tank in less than one minute. United Rotorcraft contracted with Kawak Aviation Technologies of Bend, Oregon, to design and manufacture the water tank to new specifications based on input from LACoFD.
Cal Fire’s Firehawk is the first of nine aircraft on order, with an option for three more. LACoFD has operated three older S-70A model Firehawks since 2001. The county’s new S-70i Firehawk is the first of two ordered and is more powerful and faster than the older S-70A model. “With the increase in wildfire danger, the Firehawk has never been more relevant to the state of California,” said Mike Slattery, president of United Rotorcraft. “This capability brings unmatched multi-mission capability to these firefighting agencies to protect lives and property.”