California Acquires, Begins Retrofitting Seven New C-130 Aircraft to Expand Firefighting Fleet

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: California is further expanding and upgrading its nation-leading firefighting fleet with seven new C-130H planes to protect people from wildfires, with the first of these aircraft expected to begin operations in the fall.

SACRAMENTO – Following Governor Gavin Newsom’s efforts to bolster CAL FIRE’s firefighting fleet, President Biden signed the National Defense Authorization Act which authorized the official transfer of seven C-130H aircraft from the United States Coast Guard to CAL FIRE. This finishes the partnership which was started by the late Senator Dianne Feinstein and continued in recent months by Senator Alex Padilla and other California leaders.    Here’s how CAL FIRE is now working to retrofit these aircraft for firefighting operations.

WHAT GOVERNOR NEWSOM SAID: “We’re putting more planes in the sky and boots on the ground than ever before to protect Californians from the threat of devastating wildfires. These new C-130H aircraft, when they’re modified to fight fires, will significantly boost our capabilities.”As part of a comprehensive conversion strategy, CAL FIRE will equip each C-130H aircraft with a 4,000-gallon Retardant Delivery System (RDS), reflecting a strategic investment to optimize firefighting efficiency. The first of these aircraft are expected to begin flying in the fall. CHECK OUT THE PODCAST: Listen to CAL FIRE’s podcast about the state’s aerial firefighting fleet and how these new aircraft will strengthen it.

CAL FIRE plans to strategically deploy five C-130Hs to air attack bases in Chico, Fresno, Paso Robles, Ramona, and Sacramento, with two additional aircraft for surge capacity and maintaining response capabilities during mandatory maintenance cycles.