Australia — The Convair 580 aircraft, on lease from Canada, can drop 8000 litres of water or fire retardant, and are the latest weapon in the state’s firefighting arsenal.
The planes are part of a $4 million trial and replace the much larger DC-10 water bomber, which was found to be unsuitable for Victorian terrain.
The Convair aircraft join the Erickson Skycranes, Elvis, Elsie and Marty on the firefighting frontline this season.
Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan said the planes would be based at Avalon Airport, southwest of Melbourne, for the next 12 weeks.
He said the aircraft had a proven track record in Canada fighting forest and grass fires.
“For more than a decade our North American counterparts have been using the Convair aircraft for direct attack on fires, as well as indirectly when laying retardant lines in front of advancing fire fronts,” Mr Ryan said in a statement.
“Capable of dropping 8000 litres of water or fire retardant and with a maximum speed of more than 500km/h, these aircraft can deliver loads of fire retardant to slow the spread of fires to most areas in the state in less than an hour.”
Some 50 aircraft are expected to be on standby as part of Victoria’s bushfire aerial fleet this season.