Over the past year, Montenegro’s Air Force has spent more than 200,000 flight hours on firefighting operations. It is the only active operator with aerial firefighting capabilities in the country.
The force uses three Bell 412 EPis to navigate the challenging environment of woodland and mountains in the country, particularly during wildfire season. Every July, wildfires sweep through Montenegro, which destroy endangered terrain and threaten people’s lives.
Lieutenant Nenad Dubljevic, Bell 412 pilot in the Montenegro Air Force said: “When we were looking to develop our emergency services fleet, our top priority was choosing an aircraft that is reliable. For us, the Bell 412 EPi exceeds expectations and allows us to complete life-saving missions with certainty.
He recalled a particular mission in which the aircraft was used to combat a wildfire in extremely challenging weather conditions: “During a wildfire outbreak in the Kučke Mountains this past March, we spent various flight hours over a period of two weeks fighting fires.
“During this mission, the temperature was below zero degrees Celsius, and the closest water source was a frozen lake. The Bell 412 EPi was not only able to navigate through both high and low mountainous altitudes, but allowed us to pick up 1,500 liters of water to successfully combat the fires.”