A water-bomber, up close and personal

Russia’s Beriev Be-200 is the only purpose-built jet-powered water-bomber in the world.  Built originally as a general-purpose amphibian aircraft, it’s come to be used almost exclusively in the fire-fighting role.

In 2010 several Be-200’s were fighting a forest fire in Russia when one of the pilots noticed a house on fire nearby.  He proceeded to make two passes, dumping 12 tons of water on the fire, the firefighters and a TV news crew.  It certainly provided the camera crew an opportunity to film a water-bomber from a unique angle and perspective!

I bet some of the crews fighting wildfires out West right now would love to have a couple of squadrons of those Berievs at their beck and call . . .



  1. There is at least one BA-146 in service, possibly two. The BA-146 is powered by four turbo-fan engines.

    Depending on your definition of jet-powered, There are numerous Canadair CL-215T/CL-415 turbine powered amphibians throughout the world, though they are turbo-props.

    Regardless the vodka burning amphib is a unique aircraft, one that I will likely never get to see.

  2. Curious though per this, and it would take a slow motion examination. Was it really the water itself that put the flames out, or was it the sudden displacement of the flames by the movement of air (aka wind) caused by the incoming 12 tonnes of water? Certainly the water would then have cooled the structure down such that the fire couldn't resume.

  3. After Tanker 130's wing box collapsed, the older air tankers were retired. In the past few years, Washington D.C. has done everything it can to reduce the number of large air tankers available for fire fighting. That is a political issue not a safety or fire issue. There are plenty of large air tankers waiting for call up but the companies that own them are conservative.

    Too bad that the Arizona Hot Shots didn't have a large air tanker nearby to help them. Their blood is on the hands in Washington D.C.

    Anon @ 311, if you put water on a fire, the fire goes out. It is because the fire triangle — oxygen, heat, fuel — is broken not because of air movement.


  4. One thing that's always bothered me about the United States is the amount of money spent on the military versus the money spent on protecting the environment in the form of fire fighting gear (like the plane in the clip).

    We could also do a lot better at cleaning up and containing oil spills and environment protection in general, but fire fighting occupies the top three places on my list.

  5. Yeah, bet they had a headache… water is NOT compressible, and when it hits, it's like throwing boulders. I'm actually surprised it didn't collapse the roof!

  6. The USFS (or one of the contractors) is looking at getting a couple Be200s.

    Scoopers like the Canadair CL215/415 and the Be200 can generally get a load of water onto the fire faster than any firebomber that has to land to reload. Means more loads ON the fire, and less time en route.

    Though I bet some of those Russian pilots are looking at the available lakes and reservoirs in Idaho and saying something that translates to "oh, [bleeeeeeeeeeep!] NO!"

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