Russian defence news agency ARMS-TASS is reporting that Greece has signed a contract for Beriev Be-200 firefighting amphibians. It would be the first export order for the twin-turbofan flying boat.

ARMS-TASS says the head of Russia's ministry for emergencies (MChS) announced the sale at a press conference in Moscow on 26 December. The number of aircraft was not given, but could be between seven and 14, the report says.

The MChS is the only operator of the Beriev amphibian, having taken delivery of four of the seven aircraft it has on order. The remaining aircraft are undergoing assembly at Irkut's plant in Irutsk and scheduled for delivery in 2008.

Beriev Be-200 waterdrop
                                                                                                                © Irkut

Athens has been seen as a likely customer since a Be-200 was deployed to Greece in the summer of 2007 to help fight the wildfires that swept the country. In June, Irkut and Hellenic Aerospace Industry signed a memorandum of understanding on manufacture and maintenance of the Be-200.

Greek aircraft are expected to be similar to the Be-200ChS operated by the MChS. The aircraft can scoop up 12t of water in 14s and release it in a single slavo or two to eight consecutive drops.