« Thor » is Down Under

Le deuxième Hercules de Coulson Flying Tankers, en fait un L382G ou L-100-30, la version civile du C-130H-30, est arrivé la semaine dernière en Australie pour un contrat saisonnier avec la province de la Nouvelle Galles du Sud et basé à RAAF Richmond. Il est aujourd’hui le premier, et donc le seul, avion de cette version a avoir été converti en appareil de lutte anti-incendie. Le choix d’une version civilisée du C-130 s’explique par la nécessité, désormais, de disposer d’avions certifiés pour certains contrats.

'Thor', a C-130 Hercules contracted to the NSW Government to assist in fighting bushfires, on the hard stand at RAAF Base Richmond. *** Local Caption *** RAAF Base Richmond will be used to provide airfield support services to Large Air Tanker and Very Large Air Tanker aircraft contracted to the New South Wales (NSW) Government from 01 September 2015 to 20 January 2015, assisting with NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) efforts to combat bushfires. Defence is providing a number of services including aircraft parking and security, access to fuel and refuelling facilities, equipment storage, use of resources including water, aircrew office space, and meals and accommodation for up to 20 people, as required. Facilitating the aircraft at RAAF Base Richmond is intended to maximise aircraft utility and provide access to all areas of NSW in the event of a bushfire emergency. State and Territory Governments have primary responsibility for the protection of life, property and the environment, and for coordinating and planning an emergency response or recovery within their jurisdictions. Ground-based and aerial bush fire fighting is a highly specialised field that requires equipment and training that, in general, Defence does not possess. RAAF Base Richmond will be used to provide airfield support services to Large Air Tanker and Very Large Air Tanker aircraft contracted to the New South Wales (NSW) Government from 01 September 2015 to 20 January 2016, assisting with NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) efforts to combat bushfires. Defence is providing a number of services including aircraft parking and security, access to fuel and refuelling facilities, equipment storage, use of resources including water, aircrew office space, and meals and accommodation for up to 20 people, as required. Facilitating the aircraft at RAAF Base Richmond is intended to maximise aircraft utility and provide access to all areas of NSW in the event of a bushfire emergency.

Le nouveau Tanker lourd de Coulson, le L382G N405 LC « Thor » à son arrivée en Australie. (RAAF)

Le N405LC « Tanker 132 », MSN 5025, et portant le nom de baptême « Thor » embarque une soute à débit constant RADS-XXL lui permettant de larguer 4400 gallons US de retardant soit un tout petit peu plus de de 16 000 litres.

'Thor', a C-130 Hercules contracted to the NSW Government to assist in fighting bushfires dispenses water during a demonstration over the Rickaby's drop zone near RAAF Base Richmond. *** Local Caption *** RAAF Base Richmond will be used to provide airfield support services to Large Air Tanker and Very Large Air Tanker aircraft contracted to the New South Wales (NSW) Government from 01 September 2015 to 20 January 2015, assisting with NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) efforts to combat bushfires. Defence is providing a number of services including aircraft parking and security, access to fuel and refuelling facilities, equipment storage, use of resources including water, aircrew office space, and meals and accommodation for up to 20 people, as required. Facilitating the aircraft at RAAF Base Richmond is intended to maximise aircraft utility and provide access to all areas of NSW in the event of a bushfire emergency. State and Territory Governments have primary responsibility for the protection of life, property and the environment, and for coordinating and planning an emergency response or recovery within their jurisdictions. Ground-based and aerial bush fire fighting is a highly specialised field that requires equipment and training that, in general, Defence does not possess. RAAF Base Richmond will be used to provide airfield support services to Large Air Tanker and Very Large Air Tanker aircraft contracted to the New South Wales (NSW) Government from 01 September 2015 to 20 January 2016, assisting with NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) efforts to combat bushfires. Defence is providing a number of services including aircraft parking and security, access to fuel and refuelling facilities, equipment storage, use of resources including water, aircrew office space, and meals and accommodation for up to 20 people, as required. Facilitating the aircraft at RAAF Base Richmond is intended to maximise aircraft utility and provide access to all areas of NSW in the event of a bushfire emergency.

Dès son arrivée en Australie « Thor » a procédé à quelques largages d’entraînement avant d’entrer réellement en service rapidement. (RAAF)

Il s’agit du premier contrat et de l’entrée en service du deuxième Tanker NextGen de Coulson Flying Tankers puisque cet appareil a été acheté l’an passé auprès de Lynden Air Cargo et modifié dans la foulée. Cet été, l’appareil a été préparé pour son entrée en service qui se fera donc rapidement dans l’hémisphère sud.

L’autre Hercules de Coulson, l’ex-EC-130Q désormais connu sous le callsign Tanker 131 N130FF, qui avait effectivement passé l’hiver dernier en Australie, pour le compte de la Province de Victoria, en compagnie du RJ-85 Tanker 162 d’Aero Flite, a été engagé cet été en Oregon et dans l’État de Washington où de très important incendies ont nécessité l’engagement de moyens importants.

PC (PHOS-CHEK) Australasia personnel prepare to load the PHOS-CHEK fire retardant into the C-130Q Hercules - Air Tanker on the RAAF Base Edinburgh flight line. *** Local Caption *** The ADF has provided logistic support to SA Country Fire Service-contracted firefighting aircraft at RAAF Base Edinburgh following the outbreak of devastating bushfires. The firefighting aircraft included a C-130Q Hercules - Air Tanker, an Avro RJ-85 - Air Tanker and a Gulfstream Aero Commander AC690 - Air Attack aircraft. The task, which commenced on from Sunday, January 4th 2015, followed a formal request facilitated by Emergency Management Australia (EMA), which manages and coordinates national support provided to the States and Territories.

Au cours de l’hiver 2014-2015, le Tanker 131 et le Tanker 162 (au deuxième plan) ont opéré ensemble sur le territoire australien. Une opération réussie qui se poursuit aujourd’hui avec le tout nouveau Tanker 132 encore plus puissant. (RAAF)

Pendant de très nombreuses années, les moyens aériens de l’île-continent, on reposé essentiellement sur une flotte disparate de monomoteurs agricoles et de quelques hélicoptères lourds – Coulson Aviation Australia opérant notamment des S-61N dans ce cadre. Une grande variété d’appareils, de très nombreux opérateurs, ont été évalués mais n’ont jamais donné satisfaction aux dirigeants australiens, du CL-415 au DC-10. Cette situation déboucha sur le « Black Saturday » du 7 février 2009 où de très nombreux feux de brousse éclatèrent dans la Province de Victoria et ne purent être combattus avec efficacité. 173 personnes perdirent la vie, dont une centaine pour le seul feu de Klinglake au nord de Melbourne. On peut supposer qu’une flotte cohérente de tankers lourds aurait permis de réduire un peu ce bilan effroyable.

'Thor', a C-130 Hercules contracted to the NSW Government to assist in fighting bushfires, on the hard stand at RAAF Base Richmond. *** Local Caption *** RAAF Base Richmond will be used to provide airfield support services to Large Air Tanker and Very Large Air Tanker aircraft contracted to the New South Wales (NSW) Government from 01 September 2015 to 20 January 2015, assisting with NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) efforts to combat bushfires. Defence is providing a number of services including aircraft parking and security, access to fuel and refuelling facilities, equipment storage, use of resources including water, aircrew office space, and meals and accommodation for up to 20 people, as required. Facilitating the aircraft at RAAF Base Richmond is intended to maximise aircraft utility and provide access to all areas of NSW in the event of a bushfire emergency. State and Territory Governments have primary responsibility for the protection of life, property and the environment, and for coordinating and planning an emergency response or recovery within their jurisdictions. Ground-based and aerial bush fire fighting is a highly specialised field that requires equipment and training that, in general, Defence does not possess. RAAF Base Richmond will be used to provide airfield support services to Large Air Tanker and Very Large Air Tanker aircraft contracted to the New South Wales (NSW) Government from 01 September 2015 to 20 January 2016, assisting with NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) efforts to combat bushfires. Defence is providing a number of services including aircraft parking and security, access to fuel and refuelling facilities, equipment storage, use of resources including water, aircrew office space, and meals and accommodation for up to 20 people, as required. Facilitating the aircraft at RAAF Base Richmond is intended to maximise aircraft utility and provide access to all areas of NSW in the event of a bushfire emergency.

Après avoir longtemps douté de l’efficacité des avions lourds, l’Australie commence à faire évoluer sa doctrine. Le drame du « Samedi Noir » de février 2009 n’y est clairement pas pour rien. (RAAF)

Jusque-là, et certains rapports parlementaires australiens s’en faisaient ouvertement l’écho, pour de nombreux décideurs, l’efficacité des avions bombardiers lourds « reposait sur des idées reçues et relevait du mythe ». Les évènements de l’hiver 2009 ont entraîné une prise de conscience qui se traduit aujourd’hui par la location, encore timide, d’avions aux capacités importantes comme le C-130.

Le choix, et la confirmation, du C-130 en Australie est aussi un point qui mérite d’être noté car l’histoire des Hercules spécialisés dans la lutte anti-incendies est déjà longue, passablement compliquée et marquée par une éclipse de près d’une décennie. C’est Coulson qui a relancé le processus avec la mise en service, l’an dernier, du Tanker 131, choix confirmé depuis par l’US Forest Service qui se dote actuellement de C-130 hérités de l’US Coast Guard.

fana513small 530

L’histoire complète des C-130 de lutte anti-incendies a fait l’objet d’un important article dans Le Fana de l’Aviation n°513 d’Août 2012.

Update : Le Tanker 132 devrait être rejoint par un DC-10 au mois d’octobre. A suivre !

Laisser un commentaire

Votre adresse de messagerie ne sera pas publiée. Les champs obligatoires sont indiqués avec *