Athens [Greece], August 12 (ANI/Sputnik): Greece will invest 1.7 billion euros ($2 billion) to modernize its aerial firefighting capabilities in the wake of massive wildfires that recently ripped through the country, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday.
"Even before the recent fires, it was within the plans we made to invest in and modernize the capabilities of the Civil Protection Authority. This plan was approved by the cabinet of ministers, and it includes very important support of our air firefighting fleet with the acquisition of new Canadair [firefighting aircraft], 36 small Air Tractor planes, and firefighting helicopters," Mitsotakis told a press conference.
Along with the modernization of the aerial firefighting fleet, the 1.7 billion euro plan dubbed "Aigis" is seeking to expand the capabilities of the Civil Protection Authority with the procurement of fire detection devices, drones, and other equipment. The funds for this plan have already been secured and come from three resources, the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF) funds, the European Investment Bank, and the recovery fund, according to the prime minister.
"Greece had much more aerial firefighting means now compared to the previous years, as we combined our aerial means with the ones that we leased at the beginning of the summer and we also got valuable help from the aerial firefighting means that they send us, from small airplanes to the large firefighting aircraft Ilyushin Il-76," Mitsotakis said.
Greece made international requests for help in order to fight the recent wildfires, with many countries extending a helping hand. Cyprus, France and Sweden sent two planes each, Croatia and Spain one aircraft each, Switzerland dispatched three helicopters and Egypt two. Russia has sent two Ilyushin Il-76 fitted with special water tanks and two Mi-8 helicopters, in addition to Russian Beriev Be-200ES amphibious aircraft, leased by Greece since the beginning of the summer to quell fires throughout the country. (ANI/Sputnik)