Spain upgrades firefighting fleet with seven De Havilland Canada DHC-515 aircraft

De Havilland Canada DHC-515
De Havilland Canada

The Spanish government announced, on April 19, 2024, a €375 million upgrade of its fleet of firefighting amphibious aircraft. 

Spain is ordering seven new De Havilland Canada DHC-515 amphibious aircraft, two of which will be procured through the European Civil Protection Mechanism.

The current fleet of older CL-215 and CL-415 aircraft will also be modernized with European funds.

The European Civil Protection Mechanism was set up by the European Commission to foster the cooperation between member states and their readiness to respond to natural disasters. 

It is within this framework and in response to concerns about larger and more frequent forest fires all around the Mediterranean Basin, that the EU has allocated €600 million for the joint procurement of 20 amphibious aircraft. These aircraft will be operated by France, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain. 

In addition to these jointly purchased aircraft, Spain will place a supplemental order for five DHC-515s .

These will add to Spain’s current fleet of 14 firefighting amphibious aircraft, of which 11 belong to the Ministry of Ecologic Transition (MITECO) and three are owned by the Ministry of Defense. The entire fleet is operated by military pilots of “Group 43” of the Spanish Air Force, based at Torrejón de Ardoz air base, near Madrid.

This acquisition will represent a significant upgrade to Spain’s aging firefighting fleet, some of whose airplanes have been in service for several decades. In fact, in 2023, the Spanish government retired from service four of the oldest CL-215 airframes, built in the 1970s and 1980s, and auctioned them off.

The new aircraft are expected to be delivered from 2027 onwards.

The state-of-the-art De Havilland Canada DHC-515 is an evolution of the popular CL-415 and CL-215 family of amphibious aircraft, with modernized avionics, night time operational capabilities, an additional 1,000 liters of payload and shorter loading times.

The DHC-515 is still under development and its certification is expected for 2025.

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