In preparation for the 2014 fire season, the U.S. Forest Service has added four more aircraft to its next-generation firefighting fleet, bringing the total number of aircraft to 21 large air-tankers and more than 100 helicopters. The new aircraft will enter service in the coming weeks and support more than 10,000 firefighters for the 2014 wildfire season.
“We continue to increase and modernize the fleet of aircraft available for wildland fire suppression activities,” said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell in a press release. “These new planes will combine with our existing fleet to support our heroes on the ground fighting wildfires to keep our resources and communities safe.”
The Forest Service is bringing into duty for the first time this fire season a second DC10, and three BAe-146s. The DC10 cruises at 430 mph and can carry up to 11,600 gallons of retardant. Both the BAe-146 and a C130 originally brought on last fall cruise at roughly 350 mph and can carry more than 3,000 gallons of retardant.
Eight C130s equipped with Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems also are now completing their recertification and training for this season. The Forest Service also will bring more large air-tankers in from Canada if needed.
Earlier this year, the Forest Service announced it was projected to exceed its annual firefighting budget in July, two months before the end of the fiscal year. In its 2015 budget proposal, the Obama administration proposed a special disaster relief cap adjustment to use when costs of fighting fires exceed Forest Service and Department of the Interior budgets. The proposal tracks closely with legislation authored by Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho, and representatives Mike Simpson of Idaho and Kurt Schrader of Oregon.