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Australia issues tender for firefighting services

Australia's National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) is seeking proposals on new aerial capabilities that could be used to tackle and manage bush fires in the country in the future, including unmanned air vehicles and remote sensing systems.

The NAFC has also issued an invitation to tender for aerial firefighting services from 2008 onwards and is seeking expressions of interest for the provision of aircraft tracking and event logging services. Responses to all three documents are sought by 14 March.

The NAFC is the central organisation established by Australia's states and territories to procure aerial firefighting resources. The group is also tasked with investigating and developing new capabilities that could provide improvements in the effectiveness or efficiency in aerial firefighting and aerial fire management.

The Future Aerial Fire Management Capability request for proposals is seeking information on effective aerial capabilities that are currently not used in firefighting or fire management in Australia and those that will be available within the next three years.

This includes new methods in aerial fire suppression, including fire bombing capabilities fire management techniques methods of obtaining data, information and intelligence and control, command and communications.

The centre says possible areas of interest include the use of alternative aircraft manned and/or unmanned air vehicles for intelligence gathering and communications and airborne remote sensing, including infra-red, radar and laser. In particular, the NAFC is interested in capabilities that can be used throughout the country, in a wide range of operating environments and situations.

The NAFC's invitation to tender for aerial firefighting services from 2008 is for aircraft services that will form part of a national fleet to tackle fires during the country's bushfire season, from August in some parts of the country to April in others.

The federal government contributes funding for the fixed costs of the national fleet, with individual states and territories supplementing the national fleet with their own aerial firefighting services. The contract period is three years plus two potential one-year extensions.

The national fleet comprises firebombing aircraft and air attack supervision aircraft, the latter supervise firebombing and undertake mapping and intelligence gathering tasks.

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