McDermott Aviation branches into fixed wing with C-160 purchases

Globally recognized aerial firefighting company McDermott Aviation, known for its large fleet of Bell 214 and 241ST aircraft, will soon become a fixed-wing aerial firefighting operation in addition to supplying helicopters worldwide for fire suppression operations.

September 13th, 2023, the company took delivery of a C-160 aircraft into Australia, arriving at the Sunshine Coast Airport in Queensland, where it will be fitted out with a 3000-gallon tank by Australian tank manufacturer Helitak Firefighting Equipment.

The C-160 will be the first fixed-wing tank created by Helitak Firefighting Equipment, located in Lake McDonald, Queensland, which has previously created retractable tanks for multiple helicopter types, with the most popular being the FT4500 tank, used by many United States and Australian fire contractors on the UH-60 Blackhawk.

“The C-160 project is a new challenge for us at Helitak, but creating a tank for a fixed-wing aircraft was only a matter of time for us as a business, our longstanding relationship with McDermott Aviation has allowed us to become the vendor that will produce the next generation of tank for the industry in the C-160 and allow McDermott Aviation to further assist multiple countries in providing a more comprehensive response to aerial firefighting,” said Jason Schellars, Helitak’s founder and CEO.

The Transall C-160 was first produced as a military transport aircraft, produced as a joint venture between France and Germany. According to information from Wikipedia, “Transall” is an abbreviation of the manufacturing consortium Transporter Allianz, comprising the companies of MBB, Aerospatiale, and VFW-Fokker. It was initially developed to meet the requirements for a modern transport aircraft for the French and German Air Forces; export sales were also made to South Africa and Turkey, as well as a small number to civilian operators.

The C-160 remains in service more than 60 years after the type’s first flight in 1963. It has provided logistical support to overseas operations and has served in specialist roles such as an aerial refueling tanker, electronic intelligence gathering, and as a communications platform.

The C-160 has been replaced in French and German military service by the Airbus A400M Atlas, and a small number of Lockheed-Martin C-130J Super Hercules.

The C-160 arriving in Australia is one of several purchased by McDermott Aviation that will go into service once tanks are installed in restricted category operations for service in European countries to combat the ever-growing need for firefighting aircraft provided by contractors as fire danger continues to increase year by year in European countries as the number of acres burned increases annually.


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