You may know the A-10 Warthog as an air-to-ground war jet resembling a machine gun with wings, but the model could soon be seen putting out fires instead of taking out the enemy. USA Firefighting Air Corps (USAFAC) has presented to officials in the state of Colorado, US, its plan to convert A-10s into airtankers for aerial firefighting in wildland urban interface areas. Founder of the organisation Chris Olson, who sits on the Visioning Subcommittee of Colorado's Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting, said the A-10 airtankers would provide much-needed ‘close air support’ for ground firefighters. According to Olson, the converted A-10 airtankers would have superior manoeuvrability, speed, initial attack capacity, and pilot safety. He said the aircraft could fly very low, fly night missions, see through smoke, drop retardant with pinpoint accuracy, and even reload their 2,000-gallon retardant tanks in mid-air.
Olson urged Colorado to request retired A-10 jets from the US Air Force, then form a public-private partnership to convert and operate them, with up-front costs financed by the private sector. “With the converted A-10, we'd have an airtanker that was purpose-built to protect the wildland urban interface,” Olson said.