SINGAPORE — One of Singapore’s top defense contractors wants to build a tanker that could replace the U.S. National Guard’s C-130J Hercules and other models used to fight forest fires.
The C-130J and other existing firefighting tankers are growing older, opening room for competition, said Leon Tan, senior program manager at ST Engineering said Feb. 16 on the sidelines of the Singapore Airshow. As climate change accelerates the need for firefighting capabilities, the world needs aircraft that can keep up with the pace of the threat.
The Hercules — flown by the National Guard and Air Force Reserves in coordination with the U.S. Forest Service — carries the Modular Airborne Firefighting System, which converts the transport aircraft into tankers that dump retardant on fires.
“We realized the bigger aircraft [are] actually getting very old, DC-10s and others you want to replace,” Tan said during a press conference. The largest aerial fighter — based on a Boeing 747 Supertanker — was recently decommissioned and converted to a freighter, he pointed out.
“What is left is actually a niche area, and this is where want to bring the [Boeing 757] to solve this.”
ST Engineering is teaming up with U.S. contractor Galactic Holdings — who is contracted by the U.S. Forest Service to fight fires — to transform a Boeing 757 passenger plane into a firefighter by 2024. The Singaporean company will carry out the conversion in the U.S. maintenance and modification.
Read more on this story at National Defense Magazine