The US is sending the largest firefighting aircraft in the world to help Israel fight the wildfires raging around the country.
The Boeing 747-400 Supertanker is considered the most advanced firefighting aircraft in the world. It became operational last spring, replacing the 747-100 Supertanker which the US sent to help Israel fight the 2010 Carmel wildfires.
The Boeing 747-400 is capable of carrying up to 19,600 gallons of water or fire retardant. Unlike other firefighting aircraft, the Supertanker disperses water in a manner similar to falling rain over a wider area, rather than dumping the water over smaller areas. This approach is also safer for firefighters on the ground.
Israel contacted the company Global Super Tanker, which owns and operates the plane, to examine the possibility of it being flown to Israel.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu explained why Israel asked for the Supertanker. “It needs to be understood that the firefighting planes currently being used are not able to operate overnight. There is only one plane that has this ability, and that is the Supertanker. I instructed that it be brought here. It will take 24 hours to come from the US. We only use it in extreme situations. We don’t use it for everything but I prefer that we have too much rather than too little.”
Israel has turned to other countries for help in dealing with the wildfires, including Russia, Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, and Italy. Israel also turned to France and Portugal for help Friday morning.
About 200 wildfires have been reported across Israel over the past few days. Wildfires in and around the port city of Haifa have forced at least 85,000 residents to evacuate their homes. The damage and destruction to nature – woods, flora and forest creatures – is immeasurable at this point.