House passes bill to transfer C-27J aircraft to Coast Guard; USFS would receive C-130Hs


On Thursday the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act for 2014 that contains provisions for the Forest Service to receive seven C-130H aircraft in lieu of the C-27Js they had been expecting. The bill passed with a vote of 350 to 69. Its next stop will be the Senate, which is tied up debating executive nominations, but they are expected to take up the bill next week before they adjourn on December 20.

The last time we reported on the possible transfer of excess C-27J aircraft from the Air Force to the Forest Service, there had been a proposal to instead, give all 14 of the remaining C-27Js to the Coast Guard if the Coast Guard would transfer seven C-130Hs to the Forest Service to be used as air tankers. With an agreement reached on December 9 regarding the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 between Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, that proposal remained alive.

The bill passed by the House today:

  • Requires the Coast Guard to transfer seven HC-130H aircraft to the Air Force.
  • Requires the Secretary of the Air Force to spend up to $130 million to upgrade those seven aircraft to make them suitable for Forest Service use a firefighting aircraft.
  • Requires the Forest Service to accept the upgraded HC-130H aircraft in lieu of exercising their right to take seven excess C-27J aircraft.
  • Transfers 14 excess C-27J aircraft from DOD to the Coast Guard.
  • Transfers up to 15 C-23 Sherpa aircraft from DOD to the Forest Service.

Before transferring the C-130Hs to the Forest Service, the Air Force would:

…perform center and outer wingbox replacement modifications, progressive fuselage structural inspections, and configuration modifications necessary to convert each HC-130H aircraft as large air tanker wildfire suppression aircraft.


Thanks go out to Ross

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14 thoughts on “House passes bill to transfer C-27J aircraft to Coast Guard; USFS would receive C-130Hs”

  1. good news!

    one question… USFS consider MAFFS or Rads for “their” Hercs…

    I hope for Rads or it would be a waste…

    1. Since MAFFS is cheaper, its going to be tough for Rads. Perhaps the safety factor of rapid jettison capability with a Rads tank will swing the decision.

  2. Hopefully the FS will look at the Cal Fire model of contractor built, maintained and operated for these aircraft, as they have definitely proven in the not too distant past that they cannot internally manage a fleet of aircraft….

  3. RADS-no MAAFS. Agree with Jerome. Also is this with
    the new wing box or not? If not, they could be a while getting up to speed. Good idea -if it all works…

  4. Sending 7 C130’s to a depot for all that work listed above is smart no question about that. But there is no doubt that those seven aircraft will be placed way back in the line for that work to take place. The Air Force could care less about getting these aircraft through a depot in a timely fashion. Bill you should inquire about the time table for the listed work above to be done and when your told that time period add 150% or more to it then you’ll know when they might be available. Bean a Maffs unit is far more expensive than the Radds unit even with the conversion to the fuselage. But knowing the FS they will use the Maffs that they already have in the Guard Ships, so that will make it much less expensive, and no hole’s will be cut into there kinda new precious flying machine.

  5. Hey Jack Beadle! great to read your post!

    Some very pertinent comments!
    I hope someone of the USFS read them too.

  6. Tony

    There are probably a small handful at WO-FAM that could have already identified with the CALFire as a model of GOCO that WORKS and works well.

    One of the problems…with all those planners with ideas in the Beltway…no one is listening AND if it isn’t the USFS’s idea….well it “ain’t.”

    They have not been able to manage or plan for then Next Gen LAT either through contracting nor planning for infrastructure for turbofan aircraft……that has been proven. The contracting system has proven to be pretty well jacked up as evidenced by the nearly twenty years of watching the knaptions and rigging, re- rigging, and jury rigging to make it fit for the USFS ideas. Of cost savings or cost containment. The contractors who are buying up turbofan aircraft are the ones supplying the infrastructure for support of those aircraft. The USFS has very little,other than contract knaptions, invested in any LAT or VLAT system or tank building in its history…….most of it all has been on the backs of the contractors trying to recap some of the cost of capitalization…..something the USFS and other LMA’s have distinctly shown by taking care of their own facilities…..almost an embarrassment that should not be foisted on any sort of Airtanker wish or desire that they have. If they show how to take of aircraft like they do facilities……they ought not be awarded these aircraft until the Congress takes a little look at that…

    Some Airtanker bases probably can not even handle some of the up n coming turbofan aircraft and certainly not the VLAT……been proven

    Common sense, by collaborating with CALFire, would probably show weakness on the ever knowing USFS……

    But again…if it isn’t the USFS idea…it “ain’t.”

  7. MAFFS is cheaper? Why not purchase a product that work. Low coverage levels very narrow retardant pattern, MAFFS. How about the IL-76T system in there military/cargo aircraft. 12,000 U.S. gallons in six seconds.

  8. The Fed on two occasions attempted to manage and operate their own tanker fleet. Both attempts failed and the private sector continued to provide air tankers. Just to clear it up MAFFS is waste of time and money (8 million a copy).
    Its a (MAFFS) 3P program, public, politicians, press they don’t know any better.
    Don’t get confused, the military personnel are great to work with. If the Feds are going down the military path give the military tanker drivers something to work with, that works.

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