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Israel to lease firefighting airplanes

JTA

January 12, 2011 | 9:49 am

Israel will lease firefighting airplanes from Canada as it waits to purchase six new ones from the country at a cost of $200 million.

The new firefighter airplanes under construction in Canada will be ready in about two years, according to the CBC. The leased planes will be flown by Canadian pilots.

The $200 million deal, which includes the planes and other equipment, was agreed upon Monday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Canadian Defense Minister Peter Gordon MacKay during the latter’s visit to Israel, according to reports.

The squadron reportedly will be named the Elad Squadron, in honor of Elad Riven, the 16-year-old fire brigade volunteer who was the youngest victim of the Carmel fire.

The Carmel fire broke out Dec. 2 and took four days to get under control. Forty-four people were killed in the blaze, which burned 12,000 acres of land, consumed 5 million trees, and destroyed or severely damaged 250 homes. At least a dozen countries in the Middle East and Europe, and the United States, sent fire equipment and volunteers to assist in putting out the blaze.

Israeli pilots will be trained on the use of the planes before delivery, according to reports.

MacKay also is scheduled to visit the Palestinian Authority and Jordan this week.

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