CAL FIRE secures major firefighting aircraft

The military aircraft will be able to deliver fire retardant much more effectively than what CAL FIRE is currently able to do.

California’s fire fighting force received a major boost from Congress on Thursday. 

Congress authorized the expedited transfer of seven C-130 aircraft from the United States Coast Guard to CAL FIRE. 


The big picture: The seven aircraft were transferred under the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024. 

  • One C-130 aircraft delivers over three times more fire retardant than the S-2T Airtankers that CAL FIRE currently uses. 
  • C-130s already in use have demonstrated a capability to drop 3,000 gallons – or 28,000 pounds – in less than five seconds. 
  • The C-130 has historically been used as a military aircraft for troop transportation, medical evacuation, search and rescue, weather reconnaissance and other functions. 
  • The first of the seven planes are expected to be ready in time for the 2024 fire year. 

What they’re saying: Joe Tyler, Director and Fire Chief of CAL FIRE, said the C-130s will undoubtedly enhance the state’s aerial firefighting capabilities. 

  • “These critical assets will aid in reducing the loss of life and property while protecting our natural resources and private timberlands,” Tyler said. “I look forward to these aircraft joining CAL FIRE’s world-renowned aerial firefighting force.” 
  • Matt Dias, President and CEO of Calforests, said the aircraft will save lives, improve air quality, protect forests and reduce carbon emissions. 
  • “Adding seven C-130s to California’s aerial firefighting force is a truly remarkable advancement,” Dias said. “We must continue to prioritize forest management and wildfire prevention, but vigorous and efficient suppression forces are needed in trying times as well. The force multiplier offered by the addition of these airframes to fire suppression forces is critical. Today is a huge step in that direction.” 
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