One helicopter will reportedly be equipped with a ‘Bambi bucket’, while the other will be fitted with an onboard 800-gallon (3,028 liter) tank.
The first helicopter will be stationed at Cedar City Air Center in the southwest of the state, and will be dispatched from the state’s various interagency fire centers. The location of the second aircraft’s base will be revealed at a later date.
The aircraft will also be available for use by the Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and other federal land management agencies operating in Utah.
The helicopters will be operated under a five-year, exclusive-use contract, under which each aircraft will be available for 90 days per year between June and September – with both aircraft being available to respond to wildfires in July and August.
Three seasonal helicopter managers with experience managing this type of aircraft have also been hired alongside the provision of the new aircraft.
In a statement, Mike Melton, an Aviation Officer for the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands, said: “This is a greatly needed addition to our firefighting toolbox here in Utah. Along with the assets provided by our federal partners, these helicopters will improve our initial attack and large fire support capabilities.”
While Utah is introducing SH-3 helicopters, the Spanish navy recently announced that it had phased out the last of its fleet.