As Fires Rage, A New Way To Fight Back

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Surplus A-10s Suggested As Tankers...

There's nothing like a little adversity to inspire innovation and a California company says it has part of the solution to the problem of aging large air tankers. Aero Tech Ltd. has been trying to convince California authorities and the U.S. Air Force to test A-10 attack aircraft as medium-sized air tankers. The company's Web site claims governments are wasting time and money continuing to convert 50- and 60-year-old designs into effective firefighting aircraft when the FireHog version of the venerable Warthog carrying about 1,550 gallons of retardant would provide a modern alternative. Aero Tech claims a converted A-10 could carry nearly half the load of a large air tanker (which generally carry between 3,000 gallons and 5,000 gallons) and zip it to a fire at 340 mph. Once on station, the highly maneuverable jet would be fully aerobatic, even with a full load, and be able to drop its load more precisely than large air tankers. What's more, the company claims, the electronic gear already installed on A-10s, like infrared scanners and bomb-aiming devices, would be invaluable in fighting fires.