Being married to an Aircraft Crash & Rescue Firefighter has some privileges ..I've been watching these bad boys come and go all summer. They are simply breathtaking. Adding VLATs to the firefighting air fleet over the last couple years has stepped up the game towards the goal of Safe & Effective Wildland Fire Response.....check it out in this article by Tyler Rogoway...
There have been some fantastic air tanker drop videos this year, including the DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) laying down miles of fire retardant under horrible visibility, but this P-3 Orion (or L-188 Electra?) yawing all over the place while spewing slurry takes the cake!
The P-3 Orion was developed from the Lockheed Electra, and both are very tough machines. The P-3 has spent the better half of a century hunting submarines low over the ocean in the corrosive salty air, and a handful have been converted to air tankers, although the biggest operator of the type in tanker form went out of business last year, grounding their seven P-3A tankers. As of very recently those aircraft are being resold and put back into operations, and this year their 3,000 gallon dropping ability could be put to good use as fires burn out of control all around the west. The Lockheed Electra based tankers are still soldiering on with other operatorsand continue to fight fires as this is being written.
Although prop-driven tankers have been utterly reliable for decades, they are growing very old and their is a new push to thrust air tanking into the jet age. Here's a bonus teaser for my upcoming piece on new jet-powered air tankers, these are two of the most impressive of this new breed, the DC-10 Very Large Air Tankers and Erickson Aero's MD-87 tankers,which are being developed and are based right here in Oregon:
P-3/Electra video posted to the public on Facebook, stated video credit goes toJosh Jankowski.
Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com