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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lawmakers Favor Use of C-27J Aircraft to Fight Wild land Fires

By Woodrow Bellamy III

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is encouraging the U.S. Forest Service to consider using U.S. Air Force C-27J military transport aircraft to fight wild land fires in the Rocky Mountain Region. 
(C-27J. Photo, courtesy of Alenia Aermacchi.)
Thune was joined by Sens. Tim Johnson (D-S.D) and Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) in sending a letter to Tom Tidwell, chief of the U.S. Forest Service, urging the service to consider using the C-27Js. The Air Force is planning to divest up to 21 of its C-27Js, and the Forest Service has the right of first refusal to acquire the aircraft. 
Noem said the aircraft would help protect businesses and communities in the Black Hills National Forest from the ongoing pine beetle infestation that threatens to increase the risk of wildland fires in the region. 

“Acquiring the C-27J from the Air Force could be an innovative way to help the Forest Service meet their need for additional, modernized fire suppression aircraft,” said Johnson. “I encourage the Forest Service to evaluate how these aircrafts could help them combat fires in the Black Hills and throughout the country.” 

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