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Interview with Mike Schmidt, CEO of Rheinmetall Aviation Services GmbH, on invitation Heavy transport helicopter and can contribute to a CH-53K for firefighters.

ES & T: As Managing Director of Rheinmetall Aviation Services GmbH are well acquainted with the invitation to follow the heavy transport helicopter. The planned contribution to maintenance, training and logistics of the CH-53K King Stallion They are part of German industrial teams around Sikorsky. An unusual job for a company that's actually known for its tanks.

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Mike Schmidt is the CEO of Rheinmetall Aviation Services GmbH (Photo: Rheinmetall)

Schmidt: Rheinmetall is a longtime partner of the Bundeswehr in aviation. Whether CH-53G, NH90, Tiger, A400M or Euro Fighter - Rheinmetall is always good and experienced contact for Flugsimulation- and training solutions as well as the provision of technical documentation and logistical support services. This is also reflected in the existing approvals by the air carrier der Bundeswehr resist: Rheinmetall as a certified aviation company has the relevant authorization for the care of military aircraft and aviation equipment for years.

ES & T: They have given the end of May with your partners to request to participate for the STH-tender, the tender itself was released in late June. What topics are you doing currently to?

Schmidt: Our biggest focus is currently on course to contract, which officially started the BAAINBw June 2019 and needs to be answered by mid-January 2020 from us. For this is a big part of our team currently permanently on site in the United States to formulate with Sikorsky and other industry partners an equally powerful as compelling offer.

As well as topical issues drive us around. So let's look for some time very closely and with great concern the increased threat of forest fires on. Here, the situation has nevertheless tightened noticeably in recent years.

ES & T: How does the threat landscape has changed by forest fires in recent years?

Schmidt: Fires are Germany increasingly a threat. Over the past 15 years, the forest fire frequency has never been higher than in the current year. Experts say that the risk will rise further due to climate change predict. As recent events have shown, forest fires are already a huge challenge for our firefighters and their assistants. It inevitably raises the question of whether the fire brigades are adequately equipped in Germany for such dangerous situations.

ES & T: What exactly is important in view of the fire-fighting equipment?

Schmidt: The fight forest fires requires a lot of staff, and - depending on the situation of danger - including the use of heavy equipment. A key role is played by firefighters from the air, because many of the affected areas are difficult to access. Fire departments are therefore increasingly dependent on the support of helicopters of the German Armed Forces, Federal Police and state police departments. Therefore, the helicopters of the Bundeswehr play an increasingly important role.

ES & T: Can the Bundeswehr ever provide enough helicopters?

Schmidt: Until now uses the Bundeswehr CH-53 helicopters, because they were great extinguishing
can wear waterproof outer load container. However, this fleet is getting old and needs to be urgently replaced. In 2018, the German army made reinforced assistance and flew their CH-53 helicopters nine missions with 500 extinguishing attacks. In order for the Bundeswehr came on administrative assistance to their limits. In case of fire on a military training camp in Bavaria helicopter of the US Army already had to be used. In order to meet the future demands of firefighting, the Bundeswehr needs a higher availability of significantly more powerful helicopters.

ES & T: What is the Bundeswehr, to adjust to the new situation?

Schmidt: The Bundeswehr has just approved the purchase of new heavy transport helicopter. The purchase decision is to be the beginning of the 2021st This is also for firefighters and fire departments our very good news: Because selection is the new CH-53K Sikorsky. The CH-53K is the most advanced heavy, smartest and most efficient transport helicopter ever built. We Rheinmetall want to make as a partner to Sikorsky for the maintenance and repair, adjustment of the technical and aeronautical documentation and training resources. This creates permanent new jobs and infrastructure in Germany.

ES & T: What can the CH-53K for firefighters what their competitors can not?

Schmidt: The CH-53K carries up to 12,000 liters of water per fire attack. So that they can compare to the previous model, the CH-53G, deploy more than four times the amount of fire water at the same time. Compared to the CH-47, CH-53K can carry almost double the amount of extinguishing water. And the CH-53K can transport because of their performance at the same time helpers, materials and the maximum amount of extinguishing water. This is an important aspect, because with evacuations from disaster areas, it depends on speed. In addition, the CH-53K can be equipped with a medical device and can therefore be used as a large-capacity emergency helicopter.

Interview by Waldemar Geiger.