USFS add bigger, faster planes to wildfire fleet

Posted: May 8, 2013

Written by

Jeff Barnard, Associated Press
DC-10

The U.S. Forest Service announced that heading into wildfire season it has selected contractors to provide seven air tankers that fly faster and drop a larger volume of fire retardant than other planes in its firefighting fleet.

The agency will spend nearly $160 million over five years for access to several models of aircraft, including a converted DC-10 jumbo jet, which can carry about five times as much flame-resistant liquid as any aircraft in regular use. Each of the planes can carry more than 3,000 gallons of slurry and fly faster than 350 mph, the Forest Service says. The DC-10 can hold as much as 11,600 gallons.

The newer planes are set to join the aging fleet of eight large tankers, mostly Korean War-era submarine chasers, known as PV2s, which can fly about 165 mph and hold about 2,000 gallons of fire retardant. Several such planes have been involved in fatal crashes recently, reducing the size of the fleet.

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