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Bushfire Black Hawk to return

written by Paul Sadler | November 6, 2017

Timberline Helicopters’ UH-60A Black Hawk N563DJ is heading to Australia to work this bushfire season through Pay’s Helicopters of Scone, NSW. (Timberline Helicopters)
Timberline Helicopters’ UH-60A Black Hawk N563DJ is heading to Australia to work this bushfire season through Pay’s Helicopters of Scone, NSW. (Timberline Helicopters)

Scone-based Pay’s Helicopters is again bringing an ex-US Army UH-60A firefighting Black Hawk to Australia this summer after a first successful tour of duty last bushfire season.

The refurbished Black Hawk, N563DJ, was shipped from Timberline Helicopters’ Sandpoint, Idaho facility in early November. It is expected to arrive in Scone in during the first week of December.

The Black Hawk will again be equipped with a 3,410 litre multi-shot BBX7590 Bambi bucket with a fast-fill pump to help fill it in just over 30 seconds.

Last season, Timberline’s N434TH, callsigned ‘Helitack 260’, became the first civilian registered Black Hawk to operate in Australia for aerial fire fighting operations where it demonstrated its value and capabilities to state and territory fire agencies.

Meanwhile in July, StarFlight Australia, Sikorsky Helitech and Kaan Air Australia signed an agreement to bring an initial 10 ex-US Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters into Australia to be refurbished for use locally in aerial firefighting, emergency services and disaster relief operations.


  • Craig


    Why not refurbish the Australian blackhawks being taken out of service?

  • D bell


    That would be “too logical” also given that permission is required from Trump House for the ADF to even fuel our current fleet, what hope do we have in doing something for ourselves with our own equipment. No, not going to happen.

  • Darren


    Love the Blackhawk/Seahawk family, and the scheme looks pretty nice. I just hope it sits in the hangar because tere are no fires to deal with.

  • Paul


    @ Craig… great idea.
    @ Darren… dito.

  • Mick181


    D Bell and Craig why do you think its automatically “too logical” to convert ex Army Blackhawks, what evidence do you base this on?
    First off you have to pay to refurbish the Aircraft, then you have to maintain it, then you have to find the Air & Ground crews to operate it and pay for the trg just so they can spend 90% of their time sitting around waiting for a Bushfire. All the while perfectly good Aircraft and Crews sit in 3 foot snow drifts in North America doing nothing.
    I suspect that the reason they don’t convert the Blackhawks is it is simply a lot cheaper to lease the capability for 4-5 months of the year then maintain a capability ourselves.

  • Corey


    Why don’t they just use a belly tank? The belly tank can hold 3875L. That’s over 400 additional litres of water which could be used to stop a fire. It would mean fewer trips needed as well. It would also be nice to see a fleet of these across Australia along with a national fleet of heavy tankers based off the 737-300/400 or 737-800NG along with DC-10, B767s and the ultra supertanker the B747-400. Via the joint contract for 5 months, it would allow the emergency services to put out and control fires sooner. regardless of the cost, I believe it’s a cost worth paying since any of these tankers can be put in most places of us in about 2 hours excluding WA and NT.

  • Mick181


    Wouldn’t it be better spend of resources to fitout the Blackhawks as Air Ambulances, 1/2 dozen of each in every major populatation centre able to respond very quickly to major medical emergencies such as Car Crashes, accidents or Medical emergencies in the home at work or at events. The number of people killed in Bush fires is a mere fraction of those who die in Car Crashes.
    I’m all for spending money to save lives, personal property not so much. Houses can be replaced, people can’t be.

  • Daine Shea


    Privatisation and State Budgets. Ideally we’d have a National Aviation Fire and Rescue service. Assets could be shared, hours on aircraft managed, standards made nationwide, funding centralised. God, we can’t even get a uniform thread for hydrants across this country

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