CAL FIRE’s Tanker 119 is sporting new livery

Tanker 119
Tanker 119 at McClellan, shortly after getting new paint. Photo by Mike McKeig November 20, 2020.

Mike McKeig sent us an excellent photo of CAL FIRE’s Tanker 119 taken after the aircraft received a new paint job.

This is at least the third of seven HC-130H aircraft the agency is getting from the Coast Guard that have been painted in CAL FIRE livery. The plan is for all seven to receive internal gravity-powered retardant tanks so they can be used as air tankers. In May we had photos of Tankers 116 and 118.

The rudder on T-118 was also one of the last components to be painted, like T-119 at the top of the article.

A new contract awarded to DynCorp specifies that in addition to maintaining and supplying pilots for CAL FIRE’s fleet of S-2T air tankers, they will do the same for the HC-130H tankers.

Here is a “before” photo of T-119:

T-119 McClellan 5-5-2020
T-119, an HC-130H, was seen at McClellan May 5, 2020. Photo by John Vogel.

Below are Tankers 118 and 116:

CAL Fire air tanker 118 C-130
CAL FIRE air tanker 118 at Sacramento McClellan Airport. Photographed by John Vogel March 4, 2020.
CAL Fire air tanker 116 C-130
CAL FIRE air tanker 116 at Sacramento McClellan Airport. Photographed by John Vogel March 4, 2020.

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17 thoughts on “CAL FIRE’s Tanker 119 is sporting new livery”

  1. I just do not understand the logic of using these planes when the 747-400 SuperTanker carries the load of SIX of these planes.

    A simple Undergraduate Statistics course clearly demenstrates how much safer using one plane beats six HANDS DOWN.
    C-130 = 378MPH
    747 = 614MPH
    Amazing… it is ALWAYS said the C-130 has a shorter Take-Off/Land requirement so it has a faster turnaround capibilities… The SuperTanker can get back on sceen just as fast with the current reload times at less than 30 minutes. I have suggested that our Nation would be much better served and money would be spent much wiser with this aircraft with a fleet of 50 – 75 units and a fast attack regional on call respond spaced out strategically throughout the Western United States. The use of this aircraft could present a dynamic change in the manner Wildland Interface Conflagurations are battled. Grown Based efforsts present a much higher level of danger where as Air Tanker efforts require less manpower and less manpower involved directly battling these deadly disaster in a hand to hand manner.
    While the C-130 are an inprovement over the size and speed of Rotor AirCraft and a large portion of smaller Fixed Wing Aircraft; The SuperTankers are the fastest, largest and wisest tool that should be invested in so that both more lives and money are saved.

    1. Brian,
      Respectfully, let’s not go down this road again.
      Let’s just leave it as “I do not understand the logic” as you said.
      Because you do not.

      There are many tools in the toolbox. The 747 has its place, and the C-130 is highly effective in its own place. Let’s leave it at that and save Bill some moderation time, eh?

      1. You said it all Brian. I agree 100%.
        I have never seen a VLAT in the high country of the Rocky Mountains. They are to big at certain locations.

    2. How much does a FREE C-130 cost?
      Therefore, how much does 7 FREE C-130’s cost?

      Would anyone care to donate a 747 to Cal Fire?

      No? And that concludes today’s lesson on the concept of FREE.

      The Cal Fire C130’s will be stationed at 6 Air Attack bases with the 7th tanker held in reserve for when one of the 6 requires maintenance or repair.

      1. After working 23 years in the Fire Service, this is a typical
        Simple Service Employee answer!
        Free is not always the best answer!
        But then again you get what you pay for!
        I’ve NEVER heard of a case of wings falling off of a Boeing 747-400…
        we ALL have heard of wings FALLING OFF of Lockheed C-130’s…

        1. Ockham’s razor applies here.

          How many countries fly/have flown the C-130, of any model, either now or in the past, without the wings coming off? Pssssssst! Rhetorical question.

          How many C-130’s, of any model have had their wings come off in flight? Psssst! 2!

          Of those 2 C-130’s (A models built in 1957)where the wings came off in flight what was the cause? Psssst! Fatigue cracks (wing box).

          Are C-130’s, of any model, subject to fatigue cracks? Yes. Just like any other aircraft of any manufacturer with any country.

          Don’t do scheduled inspections or not make repairs, or exceed service life limitations and keep flying with fatigue cracks and you too will have your wings come off. How simple of a concept is that?

          Bonus question

          How many 747 tankers are in service?

      2. Free for whom?

        There’s no such thing as free lunch. The taxpayers have paid for these airplanes several times over.

    3. Brian,

      Why should I have to wait over an hour and a half for a Supertanker turn around after the it took over an hour to get to the fire after it had been ordered? There are not very many tanker bases that can handle the 747, but just about every tanker base in California can handle a C-130. Sometimes bigger and faster is not always better. The 747 does have place in the tool box of fixed wing assets just like the C-130s do. In order to do as you have suggested with a fleet of 747s, would cost in the hundreds of millions of dollars range if not billions of dollars. That includes acquiring the aircraft, converting them, and building new or upgrading current tanker bases to support them. I’m sorry but as a taxpayer I would rather my taxes go to aircraft that have the ability to use most if not all of the current bases, and with a proven drop system that has passed all the required testing. The 747 misses on both of those items.

      1. 747 doesn’t fly into hurricanes either but the c130 does and yes the c130 carrie’s less retardent but u get the quicker turn around because the 747 has more to load and the 747 has only one airport in california that I’m aware of that can land and load the 747 and no ur argument about that ground forces r not needed or have little place all the retardent does is slow the spread to allow ground people to do direct attack or save structures etc paper studies don’t work in the real world takes both air and land forces to put the fires out just like bombing only dosnt win a war it takes both air and land power to do it

  2. Sad to say the government entities have been taking over private contracts for fire fighting. I have watched this since the 1970’s. Sad

    1. The only agencies with their own large fleet of Air Tankers and Helicopter are CAL FIRE, Nevada DF, Oregon DF, LA County FD and LA FD. And with the exception of CAL FIRE, most of those agencies are limited to rotor wing. USDA – Forest Service, USDOI Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Indian affairs mostly contract out for “suppression aircraft”. The Feds lease their Air Attacks and Lead Planes, but provide their own pilots. So not sure where they are not sharing “the wealth” with the private sector.

  3. Still a ways to go, the other 4 need depot level work and all of them need tank systems and the air force seems to be dragging their feet on that part.

    1. Thank you for that update. Looking at fire season 2024 for the next Cal Fire C 130 to be placed on fire mission, maybe longer? One significant aspect of private contractors is the speed at which a product is put into market. What was the above article about? Tanker 119 out of the paint shop.

  4. Mom told me “Just because someone says something doesn’t mean you have to respond.” Robert you are a wise man.

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