Croatia orders two De Havilland Canada DHC-515 waterbombers for EU wildfires

Croatia wildfires 2023
Croatia wildfires, 2023 (crordx /

The Croatian government has signed a contract to acquire two De Havilland Canada DHC-515 Firefighters, just a day after Greece signed a similar deal.  

The new agreement was announced on March 25, 2024, by the Canadian Commercial Cooperation (CCC) and the Ministry of the Interior of Croatia. 

While the DHC-515 waterbombers will be based in Croatia and flown by the Croatian Air Force the aircraft will be deployed throughout the European Union (EU) to tackle wildfires when the need arises.  

The contract is the result of ongoing cooperation between CCC, De Havilland Canada, the EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism (rescEU) and its member states to supply the EU with Canadian-made firefighting aircraft. 

De Havilland DHC-515 Firefighter
De Havilland Canada

Janez Lenarčič, EU Commissioner for Crisis Management, said that the DHC-515s will be “100% paid for by the European Commision as part of our strengthened rescEU firefighting capacity ready to fight ever more intense wildfires in Europe”.  

De Havilland Canada will provide the DHC-515 aircraft to Croatia, along with spare parts, training, and maintenance support.   

“New generation of European firefighting aerial capacity” 

Currently, Croatia currently operates six CL-415 aircraft and will increase its aerial firefighting program by one-third with the acquisition of these two new DHC-515 aircraft.   

“The activities undertaken over the past few years by the Croatian Government with its partners from Canada and with the support and assistance of the European Commission, have enabled Croatia to be among the first EU Member States to sign the Purchase Agreement for two new DHC-515 aircraft, thereby contributing to the establishment of permanent firefighting capacities at the EU level,” Davor Božinović,” the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior of Croatia said.   

He added: “This is a major common achievement, which also proves that only by joining our forces at national, European and global levels, we can efficiently respond to the devastating consequences of climate change, such as wildfires, all with a view to ensuring the safety of our citizens.” 

The DHC-515 Firefighter aircraft delivers the highest quantity of water into the fire-zone per day (nearly 700,000 L), more than twice as much as its nearest competitor. 

The aircraft refills its tanks in 12 seconds, from nearby fresh or saltwater sources including rivers, small lakes, and oceans, while land-based aircraft must return to airport after each drop. 

“It has been a couple of years since the European Commission has initiated the process to scale up aerial firefighting capacities in Europe. I congratulate Croatia to sign into reality the first planes of what will form a new generation of European firefighting aerial capacity,” Commissioner Lenarčič said.  

He added: “This is an important step to acquiring the aircraft which will help protect citizens not just in Croatia but across Europe.” 

Greece purchases seven waterbombers 

On March 24, 2024, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Montréal to confirm a separate agreement for the De Havilland Canada DHC-515 waterbomber. 

The Greek government put pen to paper and signed a contract for the purchase of seven DHC-515 aircraft, two of which will also be part of the EU RescEU reserve program. 

The Hellenic Air Force currently operates the CL-215 and CL-415 aircraft, 

Increased wildfire risks due to climate change has generated a demand for additional aircraft within the EU and globally.   

For over 75 years, the CCC has been helping Canadian companies like De Havilland Canada to establish successful commercial relationships with foreign governments. 

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