The purchases would include a medium-heavy helicopter, as well as up to six small fixed-wing aircraft. The aircraft would enable the ministry to establish a dedicated aerial firefighting capability, and their acquisition would be supported European Union’s (EU) rescEU Aerial Forest Firefighting mechanism.
The helicopter will primarily be used as part of rescEU’s aerial firefighting operations – while outside of the wildfire season, it will be used to conduct assistance and rescue operations within Slovenia itself.
As part of the planned fleet, the Slovenian government has expressed interest in leasing two Airtractor AT-802 Fire Boss amphibious aircraft.
The fleet would be based at Cerklje ob Krki Airport, however when operating internationally the aircraft will be relocated to bases closer to the fire. The airport will also serve as the fleet’s hub for crew training and aircraft maintenance.
The 2022 rescEU firefighting fleet consisted of 12 fixed-wing aircraft and one helicopter provided by six EU member states: Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Spain and Sweden. This is expected to rapidly expand to 22 planes and four helicopters from summer 2023, following the approval of a €170 million budget from the EU.