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The aircraft we fly are specifically
adapted for the fire mission.

Aircraft are ready to respond from 13 different Air Attack Bases across the state. This allows for an immediate response to all of California.



MISSION: CAL FIRE uses the S-2T airtankers for fast initial attack delivery of fire retardant on wildland fires. 


  • CREW: (1) Single Pilot

  • Retardant Payload: Up to 1,200 gallons (1,000 gals standard for IA)

  • Gross Weight: 29,150 pounds 

  • Max. Operating Speed: 235 KTS 

  • Wing Span: 73 feet 

  • Endurance: 3 hour mission fuel

  • Engines: Two 1,650 horsepower turbine engines

The CAL FIRE S-2T air tankers set the standard for initial attack to deliver fire retardant on wildland fires.  These air tankers are strategically located throughout California and can respond to the most remote State Responsibility Areas (SRA) within approximately 20 minutes. 

In 1996, CAL FIRE acquired 26 S-2E/G planes from the Federal Excess Personal Property (FEPP) program. Marsh Aviation converted the aircraft to a firefighting configuration and was retrofitted with modern, powerful turboprop engines. The completely reconditioned S-2Ts are faster, safer, more maneuverable, and carry a larger retardant payload than the original S-2A air tankers CAL FIRE had used since the 1970s. The final three S-2Ts were completed and delivered in 2005. CAL FIRE has 23 S-2T air tankers, including one in Sacramento at CAL FIRE’s Aviation Management Unit (AMU) as maintenance relief - Tanker 100.





  • Crew: (2) Single Pilot w/backseat Air Attack

  • Gross Weight: 10,500 pounds 

  • Max Operating Speed: 250kts 

  • Range: 1,000 miles 

  • Endurance: 5 hours

  • Wing Span: 40 feet 

  • Engines: Two (2) Garrett T-76 turbines (715 horsepower each)

The North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco is a turboprop-driven light attack and observation aircraft. It was developed in the 1960s as a special aircraft for COIN (counter-insurgency) combat, and one of its primary missions was a forward air control (FAC) aircraft. It could carry up to three tons of external munitions and easily loiter for three hours.

Current CalFire aircraft have had all of the armor and weapon systems removed.  An additional 125-gallon fuel tank in the cargo bay allows us to stay over a fire for over 5 hours.  CalFire OV10s have also been rewired to accommodate up-to-date avionics and navigation systems and all of the radios required for air tactical control of the fire.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF or CALFIRE) acquired many OV-10As, including the six surviving aircraft from the BLM and 13 from the U.S. Navy in 1993, to replace their aging Cessna O-2 Skymasters as air attack aircraft. The CAL FIRE Broncos fly with a crew of two, a pilot in front and an air attack officer in the back. The pilot maneuvers the plane to give the air attack officer a clear view while the air attack coordinates all aerial assets with the Incident Commander on the ground.






  • Crew: (2) Single Pilot and ATGS Air Tactical or (3) Air Tactical Trainer

  • Max Operating Speed: 260 KTS IAS

  • Range: 800-1000NM

  • Endurance: 4 to 5 hours, 3.5 to 4 hours typical mission 

  • Wing Span: 55 feet 6.5 inches

  • Gross Weight: 12,500 lbs 

  • Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney PT6A-41, turboprop, 850SHP

The King Air 200 provides CAL FIRE with a pressurized all-weather platform. Its primary use during fire season is as an Air Attack training platform. It gives the same traditional aerial supervision capability as the OV10 Bronco, with the main difference being that the instructor Air Tactical Group Supervisor (ATGS) sits behind the ATGS trainee sitting in the right front seat. The instructor ATGS performs as a mentor and coach to the trainee. When not in the ATGS training role, the KING Air 200 can be configured to carry cargo or up to 8 passengers as necessary.  The CAL FIRE King Air 200 does not perform in the lead plane or ASM low-level role.





  • Crew: (2) Air Tactical or Aerial Supervision Module (ASM) mission

  • Max Operating Speed: 250 KTS IAS

  • Range: 700-800 NM typical

  • Endurance: 3.5 to 4 hours typical

  • Wing Span: 40 feet

  • Gross Weight: 10,500 lbs 

  • Engines: Air Research/Honeywell T-76-G420 (left) -G421 (right)  (1040 horsepower each)

The OV10D Bronco provides CAL FIRE with a robust platform capable of performing in the low-level aerial supervision role often required on large or complex wildland fire incidents. Its excellent visibility for both tandem seated crew members allows for ease of tracking of aerial assets, and its superior performance capabilities allow it to integrate well with a mix of air tankers from SEATS (single-engine air tankers) to VLATS (very large air tankers) when performing the lead plane portion of the ASM role.  




  • Crew: (3) Captain, Co-pilot, Flight Engineer 

  • Retardant Payload: 36,000 pounds (4000 US Gallons)

  • Gross Weight: 155,000 pounds

  • Max operating Speed: 350 knots

  • Wing Span: 139 feet

  • Endurance: 5 hours

  • Engines: Four (4) Allison T-56-15 (501D) 4,300 HP each

The constant flow gravity retardant tank delivery system being installed in the CALFIRE C-130 airtankers is the best delivery system in the industry. The aircraft's speed, maneuverability and capacity, as well as its ability to work from smaller airfields, will be an outstanding augmentation and force multiplier to the existing fleet of Grumman S-2T airtankers.

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