11 January 2018
Victoria’s ability to reload Large Air Tankers has been bolstered by establishing the capability for the first time at the RAAF Base in East Sale.
Large Air Tanker, Boomer, is available in East Sale today and Saturday, and will be reviewed based on conditions and other requirements across the state.
To ensure Victoria has protection across the state, a NSW-based LAT will move to Victoria during this period. This has been made possible with strong cross-border partnerships with NSW.
Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said East Gippsland had experienced very dry conditions following two record dry winters and in the last 24 hours experienced considerable lightning activity.
“Ground and air crews continue to work on the Rosedale fire, and while it is contained the underlying dryness and forecasted conditions, a Large Air Tanker positioned at Sale would support the firefighting effort in the event of a flare up,” he said.
“If required this LAT will continue the work the other LATs and night firebombing operations have had on the Rosedale fire since Friday in support of ground crews.”
Large Air Tankers can only operate at a limited number of Victorian airbases because of their size. The LATs can operate from Avalon, Mildura and now Sale. Albury, in NSW can also accommodate the LATs if required.
Having the LAT based at East Sale will mean reducing the turnaround time for refuelling and loading of retardant or water.
“The updated seasonal outlook confirmed the forecast of an above normal fire risk in East Gippsland. Given this arrangements were put in place to be able to use the RAAF base if required,” he said.
“This was made possible due to the strong and ongoing partnership between the Australian Defence Force and Emergency Management Australia.”
Victoria’s Large Air Tankers are state strategic assets that are based at Avalon Airport but can be deployed across Victoria according to need and identified risk.
They form part of Victoria’s core aerial fleet of 49 aircraft available for the summer season which includes a mix of water bombing aircraft, air supervision and aerial intelligence gathering aircraft.
Victoria also has a surge capacity that can supplement the core fleet. This list has up to 100 aircraft that can be called when needed.