In order to put out fires more safely and effectively, Elbit Systems, an Israeli international defense electronics company, has demonstrated a new high-altitude, high-precision aerial fire-fighting system, HyDrop. The system allows aircraft to spray fire extinguishing agents from higher altitudes, and in a field exercise led by the Israel Fire and Rescue Service, two Air Tractor aircraft were successfully sprayed with liquid particles from two Air Tractor aircraft at 500 feet (150 meters) above the air level.
During the exercise, two aerial firefighting helicopters from the Israeli Fire Brigade were required to extinguish a burning site at a height of 500 feet (152 meters), more than four times the average height of a standard aerial firefighting flight. Using the Hydrop system, each helicopter delivered 1.6 tons of balls containing 140 grams of liquid in calculated ballistics, reaching the saturation accuracy of 1-2 liters of water per square meter.
Since 1953, the fire department has been using liquid dumping methods to extinguish fires in the air, mainly by spraying liquid, foam or other fire extinguishing agents through low-flying aircraft. However, for safety reasons and civil aviation regulations, helicopters are required to fly at altitudes of 100-120 feet (30-37 meters). HyDrop is able to perform high-precision calculations of biodegradable liquid projectiles from an altitude of 500-2000 feet (152-708 meters), which is safe and certified by civil aviation authorities for night flight.
Hydrop integrates fighter avionics equipment, including ballistic computers, command and control systems and advanced display systems, as well as liquid projectiles stored in specially designed airborne transmitters. The charge unit navigates the helicopter to the mission site, while the ballistics computer generates precise drop trajectories based on the speed, altitude, GPS position, wind conditions and the weight and shape of the liquid projectile.
In addition to circumventing the limits of night-time aerial firefighting, the system eliminates liquid loss caused by the aerosol effect and improves the safety of pilots and improves the efficiency of firefighting in the air during the day and at night. The Hydrop system includes a pellet manufacturer. The machine can be mounted in a standard 20-foot (6.096-meter) container and can produce 10 tons of projectiles per hour.
These projectiles are made of biodegradable materials that can be filled with water, foam and flame retardants. The micropills were shown to be free of harmful residues and were tested to be safe for staff on the ground at the time of launch.