Coulson Aviation Continues to Advance Aerial Firefighting Industry Through Partnership with Kawak Aviation to Develop Improved Firefighting Black Hawk Platform

Sacramento, Calif. – March 6, 2024 – Coulson Aviation is pleased to announce its partnership with Kawak Aviation to launch a modern, upgraded, and more cost-effective Firefighting Black Hawk aircraft platform. The world’s largest aerial firefighting company that designs, manufactures, installs, and operates aircraft, Coulson is leading the innovative charge for the proven UH-60-based firefighting aircraft to help ensure a safe solution for every customer and budget.

“The original firefighting Black Hawk was first brought to market more than 25 years ago, and there has been no innovation or significant improvement on the platform since,” says Coulson Aviation President and COO Britton Coulson. “By leveraging our design, manufacturing, installation, and operating experience, we’ve made several significant improvements to not only boost the aircraft’s capabilities and safety but also provide access to the platform within various budgets. Partnering with Kawak is a big piece of that work.”

Coulson’s Firefighting Black Hawk aircraft platform will feature several modernization innovations to increase operational capabilities and safety. It includes a redesigned Retardant Aerial Delivery System III (RADS-III) belly tank system developed in partnership with Kawak. While it continues to carry 1,000 gallons (3,800 liters), the system is lighter, includes an updated control system, utilizes a faster pump system that reduces tank filling to 40 seconds, can better execute dense drop patterns, and corrects vibration issues common on the S-70 with the older tank.

“Kawak’s culture is steeped in innovation, and when we brought the RADS-III into our portfolio in 2011, we knew we had an extraordinary opportunity to improve the dated system to make it more efficient and effective for operators,” Andrew Mills, VP of Business Development. “As the IP owner of the RADS system, Coulson was the ideal partner to support designing an updated S70i- and UH-60-compatible system that increases efficiency and performance for operators.”

Other Coulson Firefighting Black Hawk modernizations include extended landing gear to accommodate the belly-mounted tank and Donaldson Inlet Barrier Filters for increased engine protection, reliability, and efficient operation. The aircraft also features next-generation NVG technology, avionics, and onboard cameras to support reduced pilot workload while increasing situational awareness and overall mission effectiveness.

The Coulson Firefighting Black Hawk program itself is designed to support a variety of customer needs and budgets. Coulson can complete a Firefighting Black Hawk from a new Sikorsky S70i helicopter or help procure a government surplus UH-60 and provide complete conversion to a Coulson Firefighting Black Hawk.

Coulson Aviation and Kawak Aviation are exhibiting at the Aerial Fire Fighting North America Conference in Sacramento, California, March 6 – 8, 2024.

About Coulson Aviation

Throughout the company’s 60+ years, the mission has remained the same: to protect the world from forest fires. Our organizational capabilities allow our team to provide simultaneous aerial support across numerous continents. As a leading supplier to county, state, and federal governments worldwide, Coulson has focused its next-generation multi-mission fleet on sustainable, in-production aircraft. Working in partnership with OEMs and leveraging the latest technology allows Coulson to provide superior all-hazard response aircraft. Learn more about Coulson Aviation by visiting:

About Kawak Aviation

Kawak Aviation engineers and produces world-class aerial firefighting products. The company’s complete tank systems, refill pump technology, and hydraulic power solutions are second to none for performance and reliability. Kawak fire products dramatically decrease refill times, are built to be simple, rugged, and reliable, and set the standard for industry performance. Learn more about Kawak Aviation by visiting:

AerialFire Staff
AerialFire Staff
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