SA to have more firefighting aircraft

By AAP Newswire

South Australia's Country Fire Service will have more planes in the air to battle bushfires this summer.

The state government will provide $9 million to boost the CFS fleet from 17 to 26 aircraft.

"The increase in the number of firefighting aircraft will provide greater support to ground-based CFS firefighters across the state," Emergency Services Minister Corey Wingard said on Saturday.

A new five-year aircraft supply contract will help two South Australian businesses, Aerotech and Helifarm, along with national contractors United Aero, Kestral and Air Affairs.

CFS chief officer Greg Nettleton said by responding with aircraft immediately, it was possible to begin quickly suppressing fires from the air and to also provide timely information to the community about the scale and movement of any blaze.

"The CFS will also have access to a high-speed intelligence strategic resource aircraft to provide statewide fire mapping intelligence to the community 24 hours a day," Mr Nettleton said.

"The infrared camera on the aircraft will provide near real-time, downloadable mapping to enhance our ability to track fires, especially in terrain like the Mount Lofty Ranges."

Contracts for CFS aircraft will begin in November with the entire firefighting fleet, including the distinctive aircranes, to be available from late December.