Airstrike Firefighters is making progress toward their goal of putting seven P3 Orion air tankers formally owned by Aero Union back into service. The aircraft have not been used on a fire since the U.S. Forest Service canceled the contract July 29, 2011 due to the company “failing to meet its contractual obligations”, according to the agency.
As we reported in August, Airstrike signed a Call When Needed (CWN) contract last year with Colorado for their P3 air tankers to be used as required by the state.
Tanker 23 (N932AU) is presently receiving a few finishing touches at the Airstrike facilities at Sacramento McClellan Airport. Scott A. Schorzman, Airstrike’s VP Business Development, said the tanker will be forward deployed to the Northern Colorado Regional Airport at Fort Collins around the second week of April, ready to be activated on a state CWN contract to fight wildfires.
Airstrike has two other P3 air tankers at their hanger at McClellan that are undergoing inspections, maintenance, and installation of equipment necessary for federal contracts.
Mr. Schorzman expects Tanker 22 to be complete around May of this year. They will be leasing the aircraft from Buffalo Airways who purchased it from Blue Aerospace/United Aeronautical Corporation, the company that acquired seven of the P3s after Aero Union’s bankruptcy.
Then, next out the hangar doors will be Tanker 17 with an expected completion date of early to mid summer. After that Mr. Schorzman said they will begin working on the remaining four P3s.
Thanks go out to Sergio Mura. He took all of these P3 photos in January of this year.
In March of 2018 when I visited Airstrike’s hangar the only P3 present was Tanker 23. You can see that article and the photos here.