A Lockheed Hercules firefighting air tanker has arrived at RAAF Base Richmond as part of the NSW Rural Fire Service’s (RFS) two-year trial of a large air tanker during the upcoming bushfire season.
The stretched L-100-30 (model 382G) Hercules, registered N405LC to Lynden Air Cargo and on contract from Coulson Flying Tankers of Portland, Oregon, was put through its paces on a demonstration flight at RAAF Base Richmond on Tuesday.
In a note to media at the event, the NSW Rural Fire Service said the L-100-30 Hercules Large Air Tanker (LAT), which can carry up to 15,450 litres and takes just 10 minutes to refuel, was chosen due to its successful operational history in fire fighting.
“It is able to reach remote fires rapidly with a large load of fire retardant, suppressants or water and drop, and they quickly return to the base to reload,” the NSW RFS said.
The aircraft will be based at RAAF Base Richmond from September 1 until early December, the NSW RFS said, with secondary regional airbases such as RAAF Base Williamtown, Dubbo, Tamworth and Canberra also able to accommodate the aircraft to increase coverage of key risk areas and improve operational efficiency.
“This will allow the LAT to operate on fires anywhere in the state,” it said.
The stretched Hercules arrived at Brisbane Airport on Sunday afternoon, having made its way to Australia from Anchorage Alaska via Kahului and the Marshall Islands.
After an overnight, it then headed to RAAF Base Richmond on Monday morning.
N405LC, named Thor, is the larger sistership to C-130Q Hercules air tanker N130FF which operated in Australia during last summer’s bushfire season under contract with the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries.
Thor is due to joined by a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) which the NSW RFS said would join its firefighting air fleet at the end of September and be available for deployment in the state between October and the end of January 2016.
The RFS said it would have 35 aircraft supporting the firefighting effort over the coming bushfire season, which would be “supported by over 100 tactical aircraft from operators that have net standards to carry out aerial firefighting activities”.
“The aircraft will be strategically located across the state in accordance with the predicted fire risk to facilitate rapid initial attack in support of ground fire fighters,” the RFS said.