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Night helicopters complete initial attack exercise

6 March 2020

Victoria’s firebombing helicopters successfully completed an initial attack training exercise at Lal Lal overnight on Tuesday. 

After several weeks of planning, the exercise included mapping water points, drop zones and hazards in pre-designated areas before helicopters unfamiliar to the area took off at night to undertake the exercise. 

Previously, night firebombing helicopters were required to do a day reconnaissance mission in order to map and identify hazards and locate water sources by air before they could drop water on the area at night. 

But for the first time, helicopters were able to simulate an initial attack exercise without having completed a day reconnaissance flight. 

Emergency Management commissioner Andrew Crisp said this was a significant achievement in the night aviation program. 

“This exercise looked at how we can still make night firebombing operations safe, but without doing a day reconnaissance flight,” he said. 

“We’ve trialled it and while there’s still more work to be done and learnings that will come out of it, it certainly is a significant milestone in our night program.

“By continuing to trial and learn from this experience, we could eventually have helicopters respond to new fire starts in pre-determined areas at night.”