GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — The U.S. Forest Service is taking possession of U.S. Coast Guard planes that are being converted to drop retardant on wildfires.
The first of the planes, an HC-130H, is based in Sacramento, California and ready to start flying as far as 500 miles to drop retardant on a wildfire .Six more are coming online through 2019 and will be based around the West.
The Forest Service has been working since 2004 to modernize and stabilize the tanker fleet following a series of high-profile crashes.
The former Coast Guard plane brings to 21 the number of planes available for dropping retardant around the West.
Fifteen of them represent the next generation of air tankers that fly faster and carry bigger payloads than in the past.