CalFire C-130's


It seems that CalFire is going to be acquiring the C-130’s that the Forest Service were going to use as air tankers. There is more to that whole story, but CalFire will have C-130’s soon.


So how and where these will be stationed up and down the state. Thanks for posting!


They need to retrofitted and have all the goods installed - It will be a while before they hit the firelines.


Copy that…

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There was a Forest Service C-130 making drops on the Carr yesterday. I’m sure that is not part of the calfire deal though.


It is part of the deal. All the C-130’s that the FS got from the Coast Guard are the ones in the deal.


Email came out today:

In recent months, the USDA Forest Service has made the decision to discontinue the acquisition and conversion of seven C-130H air frames into dedicated air tankers as authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act in 2014. In lieu of agency owned air tankers, the Forest Service will focus on an exclusive-use and call-when-needed model to support the national air tanker program. As all of you know all too well, the wildfire risk continues to increase in California and we are in a year round fire season. As a result, we have increasingly relied on the use of call-when-needed and exclusive-use large and very large air tankers to augment our fleet of S2-T air tankers. With this in mind, Senator Feinstein and her staff have worked tirelessly to seek amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act that authorize the transfer of the seven C-130H air frames to the State of California. This amended language will be voted on by Congress in the next week.

If approved, there are a number of steps which must take place before California, and ultimately CAL FIRE, can take possession of these aircraft. Additionally, they must be developed into firefighting air tankers, which will require funding through future budget processes. The number of aircraft to be built and the ultimate base locations have yet to be determined, and may take several years to implement. However, the acquisition of these aircraft are an important step forward in bolstering our capacity to address the State’s wildfire risk.

I will keep you informed as the Congressional vote on this action occurs.



I wonder how far all the C-130’s through the wing box replacement. Obviously 2 of them are finished with the wing box replacement. Tank installation, if they go with the Coulson tank(which would be the logical choice, but you never know with lowest bidding), would not take very long at all.

CalFire has had a type 1 at Paso for the last few years to cover the hole that T-81 left. I think they have continued to have a type 1 at Paso this season. Testing the waters maybe?

Will be interesting to see how many they actually fly, and if they are used as surge force, or a standard fare on base.


I have also been told, adding these to the fleet would allow for more down time of the S-2s, hopefully increasing the lifespan.


Well there are 8 Cal Fire bases (Redding, Chico, McClellan, Hollister, Paso, Fresno, Porterville, and Ramona) long enough to take a C130 so that works out. I’m not sure if all 8 of them are weight rated for them to land loaded though🤷‍♂️. Super exciting times for California aerial firefighting regardless.


Paso is rated for C-130’s as well. They reload MAFF’s out of there when fires are close.


Your numbers aren’t all quite right there.
CalFire pulled out of Fresno, so that is out.
Although Hollister’s runway is long enough, they have never put any of the current generation LAT’s in there. Maybe the runway can’t handle the weight or isn’t wide enough? I have seen tankers go to other bases when Hollister was the closest. That takes Hollister out of the running (at least in my mind, maybe I’m wrong).
Porterville, Redding, Chico, MCC, and Paso for sure. I think Ramona can handle the C-130 if it is flying under CalFire, I know there is an issue with putting Fed LAT’s in there due to runway length and safety.


Add Sonoma AAB to your list. C130 tankers have been flying out of there for two decades.


What about Merced, seems geographically that would work. Any thoughts?


Maybe having state-owned C130s would provide more motiviation to make necessary changes to Fresno, Hollister, Ramona, or whatever, to accommodate them.


I’m ignorant to the agencies & bases and whatnot, but don’t LATs & VLATs reload at San Bernardino?
And Castle AFB.
Just reloads not bases?

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Yes Sonoma too, I missed that one in my mental checklist.

Fresno is no longer a CalFire air base, as in they don’t have CalFire personnel stationed there for aircraft ops. They disbanded the air attack platform and based the Fresno tanker at Porterville permanently. Fresno can handle a C-130 no problem, but Calfire is going to base their aircraft at their own facilities. Doesn’t mean it can’t overnight or reload at Fresno.
Same thing applies to San Bernardino and Castle. They are Fed air tanker bases. Any agency can reload there, but you normally want your own hens in your henhouse.

Lengthening Ramona has been talked about and I don’t see it happening. CalFire though is willing to download aircraft for the field, something that the FS isn’t a fan of.

I do not know why Hollister is not capable of handling LAT’s. The actual tanker base itself is not ideally set up for large aircraft, and would require modifications I think to regularly base a LAT there (somebody older than me will probably tell me that they use to fly C-130’s out Hollister all the time, but I don’t have any history that far back to know).

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Yeah I forgot Sonoma. And Fresno (AA430)is going off a memory from State service 20 years ago😂. Thanks for the education

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Thanks Chief, great info


Ramona was extended. It is now 5000 ft. Could have gone longer if it were not for some endangered species at the end of the 5000 ft. If on a USFS contact, the BAE-146 can’t land on the runway. Has to go to SBD or Brown field if setup. But if on CALFIRE contract, it can land at Ramona. Government at its best.