Royal Air Force to provide specialist firefighting vehicles and training to Ukraine's firefighters ahead of 500 days of war
The UK will provide 17 specialist firefighting vehicles to Ukraine’s fire and rescue services, primarily sourced from the Royal Air Force and Defence Fire and Rescue, with one provided by the Welsh Government.
Due to arrive in the coming weeks, the urgently needed equipment will help bolster Ukraine’s ability to respond to damage caused by Russia’s continued use of cruise missiles and one-way attack drones against Ukrainian infrastructure.
The specialist vehicles - Rapid Intervention and Major Foam Vehicles - were delivered from locations around the UK to RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire to allow RAF personnel to conduct the required preparations before their onward movement to Ukraine.Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said:
"These specialist firefighting vehicles will boost Ukraine’s ability to protect its infrastructure from Russia’s campaign of missile and drone attacks and continue our support for Ukraine, for as long as it takes.
"In the last week, personnel from 5001 Squadron have inspected and prepared the vehicles to make sure they are ready to conduct their role. Once those preparations were complete, 2 Mechanical Transport Squadron loaded the vehicles ahead of their journey to a designated delivery point."
In preparation of the vehicles’ arrival in Ukraine, members of the Ukrainian Military Fire Service conducted a week’s training at RAF Wittering. This was designed and delivered by the RAF and Defence Fire and Rescue to familiarise the Ukrainians on the vehicles before they operate them for real.Defence Chief Fire Officer, Sim Nex, said:
"The Defence Fire and Rescue family are extremely proud of the specialist support which we have been able to facilitate.
"We are confident that the equipment provided to date, and associated training, will directly enhance firefighting capability, as we consider further opportunities to support the Ukrainian Military Fire Service moving forward."
This equipment is the latest in the UK’s programme of support for Ukraine, nearly 500 days after Russia launched its illegal, full-scale invasion. The UK committed £2.3 billion funding for military aid to Ukraine in 2022 and the Prime Minister has confirmed that this figure will be matched in 2023.Air Commodore Jamie Thompson, Commander Global Enablement said:
"Support to Ukraine, through training and the provision of equipment, remains a priority of RAF Global Enablement. We are proud to work alongside our allies in this effort, supplying specialist equipment and training to assure the safety of the Ukrainian people."
It follows previous donations to Ukraine of around eight tonnes of personal protective equipment for firefighting, along with other non-lethal aid including medical equipment and more than 100 industrial-strength generators.