SOURCE: USA Firefighting Air Corps

USA Firefighting Air Corps

September 12, 2014 09:38 ET

USA Firefighting Air Corps Targets WUI Wildfires

DENVER, CO--(Marketwired - Sep 12, 2014) -  USA Firefighting Air Corps (USAFAC) presented to Colorado lawmakers this week its plan to convert A-10 "Warthog" jets into airtankers for aerial firefighting in wildland urban interface (WUI) areas.

On Wednesday, USAFAC co-founder Chris Olson shared with the Colorado Wildfire Matters Review Committee detailed plans developed by Colorado Springs aerospace designer Edward Herlik to convert A-10 Thunderbolt II jets into next-generation type 2 airtankers.

Olson, who sits on the Visioning Subcommittee of Colorado's Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting, said the A-10 airtankers would provide much-needed "close air support" for firefighters in the WUI, where megafires threaten to destroy entire communities.

According to Olson, the converted A-10 airtankers would have superior maneuverability, speed, initial attack capacity, and pilot safety. He said the aircraft could fly very low, fly night missions, see through smoke, drop retardant with pinpoint accuracy, and even reload its 2,000-gallon retardant tank in mid-air.

Olson urged Colorado to request retired A-10 jets from the U.S. Air Force, then form a public-private partnership to convert and operate them, with up-front costs financed by the private sector. He said that, in addition, a fleet of A-10 airtankers should be considered by the Western Governors' Association, which passed Resolution 2014-10 in June to evaluate options for regional wildfire fighting resources. 

The Fireman's Fund estimates that one-third of homes are in the WUI, the fast-growing zone of transition between unoccupied land and human development.

"With the converted A-10, we'd have an airtanker that was purpose-built to protect the wildland urban interface," Olson said.

About USA Firefighting Air Corps

USA Firefighting Air Corps (USAFAC) is a Denver, Colorado company in formation. Its business model draws on the multidisciplinary process which led to the successful establishment, funding, and launch of the Colorado Firefighting Air Corps, an initiative begun in 2012 to keep pace with the state's increasing need for new fire aviation resources. The mission of USAFAC is to help grow the newly-redefined United States and international aerial firefighting market by assisting local, tribal, state, regional, and national entities in developing and maintaining their own firefighting air corps. For more information, visit USAFAC.com.

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