Russia’s war in Ukraine affects availability of firefighting helicopters in Cyprus

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Sanctions prevented previously used Russian companies from bidding for a contract

Kamov KA-32A on standby at Loulé heliport in Portugal. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made it difficult for the Republic of Cyprus to secure contracts for firefighting helicopters.

For the past two years, the government’s Forestry Department has leased two Russian-owned Kamov Ka-27 helicopters, but European Union sanctions against Russia mean the source is unavailable for the next forest fire season. The only bid submitted did not meet the criteria.

The helicopters were based at Paphos airport.

The Forestry Department is working with the Tender Board to possibly negotiate with another supplier who had already expressed interest. In the meantime, the agency is working on the purchase of two helicopters.

In July 2021, Cyprus suffered its deadliest wildfire in decades. Driven by strong winds, it swept through the southern foothills of the Troodos mountain range in a severe heat wave. The blaze killed four Egyptian workers, destroyed 50 homes, damaged farms and power lines and forced the evacuation of 10 villages. Greece and Israel each deployed two planes, a helicopter came from a nearby British base and Cyprus had 11 of its own planes working on the blaze.

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