The U.S. Forest Service has established a temporary air tanker base at the Mojave Air and Space Port in southern California because the runway at General William J. Fox Airfield is closed while undergoing maintenance. The runway closure means the tanker base at Fox is also shut down.
Air tanker bases are used for staging firefighting air tankers before they are dispatched to a wildfire, and for refilling them with fire retardant to drop on a fire to slow the spread.
The work on the runway at Fox was due to be complete by about this time, but the contractor ran into problems, and it could be another month or two before it is done. Unless, of course, more problems develop.
Mojave Air and Space Port, known in the air tanker community as “Mojave Reload,” is available for Large (LAT) and Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) retardant loading, but is restricted at this time to only DC-10s. The base has two pits that when combined can load a VLAT. At this time Mojave will only reload the DC-10s until such time as there is “appropriate infrastructure in place to service the 747”, according to a memo circulating among the agencies. Mojave Reload can support either two airtankers or one VLAT in their pits.
The tanker base at the San Bernardino airport east of Los Angeles can support both LATs and VLATs.