Firefighting Squadron Takes to the Skies, in Part

The first test of Israel's spanking new firefighting squadron ended successfully after three days. While the squadron has been placed on alert ahead of the heat wave expected this week, TheMarker has learned that two crucial members of the seven-plane squadron, planes designed to siphon up seawater in real time, didn't take part in the exercise.

That's because the planes haven't finished their registration process and their future pilots haven't finished training on them.

All seven planes are AirTractor 802s. Five of the jets spray flame retardant substances. Two were retrofitted to take up seawater.

The official inauguration of the Elad Squadron, named for the 16-year old volunteer firefighter who died in the December 2010 Carmel fire, is scheduled for May 4.

The main purpose of the exercise was rapid-response, scrambling the planes. The test was "live," which means that real fires were set for the planes - at least the ones that spray retardant - to put out. They succeeded in their mission.