Part Of The Larger Defense Reauthorization Approved Tuesday
Included in the bill reauthorizing the Defense Department passed Tuesday by the U.S. Senate was the Wildfire Suppression Aircraft Transfer Act, a measure Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) introduced earlier this year.
This amendment gives priority to the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Coast Guard to acquire excess aircraft from the United States Air Force after they have been deemed surplus equipment. It allows the Forest Service to obtain several aircraft that McCain said in a news release posted on his website it "desperately needs to fill a significant gap in its overall fire suppression strategy." This amendment is supported by the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Coast Guard.
The Air Force's fiscal year 2013 force structure proposal identified an excess of 21 to 38 nearly new C-27J fixed-wing aircraft. Thanks to the provision, the Forest Service would be able to acquire fourteen C-27Js to enhance its severely diminished firefighting fleet at no cost to the Air Force or Forest Service.
The bill now awaits consideration in the House of Representatives.