United Rotorcraft have confirmed the delivery of an aerial firefighting helicopter to California’s Santa Barbara County Fire Department, for use by its Air Support Unit.
The modified Sikorsky HH-60 features a 4,546-liter belly-mounted water tank that can be refilled in 90 seconds, a retractable snorkel and extended landing gear to accommodate the tank.
United Rotorcraft converted the legacy HH-60 twin-engine rotorcraft to an aerial firefighting configuration by installing a Macro Blue avionics system to give pilots control over the fire system.
The aircraft also retains its multi-mission capabilities, enabling aircrew to perform search and rescue (SAR) missions, medical evacuation, and carry cargo either internally or externally, in addition to conducting firefighting operations.
The helicopter expands Santa Barbara Fire Department’s firefighting capacity
The helicopter joins the Air Support Unit’s existing mixed fleet of Bell OH-58 Kiowas and Bell UH-1 Hueys, and expands firefighting and SAR capacity to meet the growing demand for both services across southern California.
The HH-60 offers five times the capacity of one of the unit’s existing Huey aircraft, which offers a tank capacity of just 1,182 liters.
Santa Barbara County Fire Department’s Division Chief, Anthony Stornetta, said, “With the addition of this state-of-the-art aircraft, we now have longer fuel cycles, shorter turn-around times, less time in the dip (filling the water tank), more water on the fires, and longer commitment to the command and control over the incident.
United Rotorcraft previously converted two ex-army HH-60L helicopters to firefighting configuration on behalf of Ventura County Fire Department (VCFD).