— Michael Piper (@mic654) July 1, 2018
Michael Piper got these photos of Air Tanker 118 apparently off the television as one of the HC-130H air tankers was working the County Fire west of Sacramento. Click on the photos a couple of times to see larger versions.
After Congress authorized $130 million to transfer seven U.S. Coast Guard HC-130H aircraft to the U.S. Forest Service to be converted to air tankers, much work was done to bring maintenance up to date, replace wing boxes, and issue contracts to private companies for regular maintenance and operation. But a few months ago the current administration announced they plan to abandon the project.
This may be the last year we see any of them fighting fire. Then I guess they’ll go to the boneyard in good shape, some with new wing boxes. There’s a rumor that CAL FIRE is considering upgrading from their 1,200-gallon S-2T air tankers to a version of the C-130 which carries at least 3,000 gallons. Maybe they will get their hands on them.
Over the last three years one has been seen occasionally over fires, using a borrowed MAFFS slip-in tank system. As far as I know, no permanent retardant systems have been installed in any of the seven HC-130H aircraft.