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World’s Largest Helitanker Gears up for Another Hot Season in Southern California

California had to face almost an entire decade of drought, and it looks like this year is no exception. As Southern California is currently experiencing “peak fire weather,” two helitankers are ready to come to the rescue.
The Chinook CH-47 is the world's largest helitanker 7 photos
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The Quick Reaction Force (QRF) is considered a game-changing program that resulted from the collaboration between Southern California Edison (SCE), the Orange County Fire Authority, the Los Angeles County Fire Department, and the Ventura County Fire Department. This will be the second year when the Force has been deployed to support emergency response missions in the area.

According to American Military News, the QRF was ready for the new season since June 24 and will be on call to respond to fires in the area until the middle of November, covering the time of the year when deadly wildfires are most likely to break out. The QRF is comprised of a mobile fire-retardant base and four helicopters provided by Coulson Aviation.

One of the aircraft is a firefighting helicopter, another one conducts reconnaissance tasks, and the other two are Chinook CH-47 helitankers.

If you haven’t heard of the CH-47 helitanker before, you must know that it’s considered the world’s largest helicopter of its kind. In comparison to standard helicopter water tanks, able to drop around 350 gallons (1,324 liters) of water, this “Very Large Helitanker” boasts a whopping 3,000-gallon (11,356 liters) capacity. It was unveiled by the Orange County fire officials two years ago, and its abilities continue to be unsurpassed.

The twin-propeller, twin-engine CH-47 is versatile enough to operate in multiple ways, depending on what’s best suited. According to Wayne Coulson, president and CEO of Coulson Aviation, it can “go direct-attack atop the fire,” but it can also act like an air tanker, dropping retardant ahead of the fire. Plus, it’s night vision-certified, which means that it can drop either water or retardant at any time, day or night.


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