Aerial Firefighting

C-130 Hercules equipped with RADS aerial firefighting system – The most versatile and effective large air tanker with proven results

IAR is proud to provide firefighting organizations with the premier large air tanker solution, the Lockheed C-130 Hercules equipped with the RADS firefighting tank system.  This combination of a proven aircraft and an advanced firefighting system provides IAR clients with the best solution for combating wildfires.

Advantages of IAR’s aerial firefighting systems:

  • Over 35 years of experience operating large air tankers
  • Global aerial firefighting operations
  • The largest fleet of commercial C-130 aircraft
  • Air tankers equipped with RADS aerial firefighting systems
  • Qualified and configured for PCADS deployment

Safety – Efficiency – Versatility


To be effective, aerial firefighting aircraft must operate at very low altitudes and slow speeds, often over rugged terrain in reduced visibility due to smoke.  This creates a very high risk environment for any aircraft.  The C-130 Hercules was specifically designed for low altitude / slow speed / low visibility operations which significantly reduces those risks.  This makes the C-130 a much safer air tanker than large swept-wing jet aircraft.  The C-130’s four turbo-prop engines, straight wing design, and multitude of cockpit windows allow for:

  • Reduced likelihood of an aircraft stall due to a stall speed that is much lower than that of swept-wing aircraft
  • Better performance following the loss of a single main engine due to four-engine redundancy
  • Lower risk of midair collision due to higher maneuverability at slow speeds
  • Improved ability to see and avoid terrain and obstacles (including other firefighting aircraft) due to unmatched visibility from the pilot’s seat


The C-130’s turbo-prop engines are much more fuel efficient at low altitudes than the jet engines commonly found on other large aircraft.  This means:

  • Longer duration flights allowing for more time over the fire
  • Cost savings resulting from lower fuel consumption

In addition, the C-130’s slow speed agility allows it to be much more accurate when dropping on a fire which increases the effectiveness of each sortie saving both lives and property.


With the ability to be reconfigured from aerial firefighting to cargo hauling in about an hour, the legendary flexibility of the C-130 is well earned.  The Hercules can be operated from more airfields than any other aircraft of similar size.  This is due to its high wing and light “footprint” which prevents its landing gear from sinking into soft surfaces commonly encountered at small airports in remote locations.  The multi-role capabilities of IAR’s C-130 fleet include:

  • Large air tanker
  • High endurance airborne command and control aircraft
  • Long range search and patrol
  • Aerial rescue with the ability to drop survival equipment: provisions, shelters, & rescue personnel
  • Transport of oversized firefighting-related cargo
  • Airdrop of fuel & equipment into remote areas inaccessible by road
  • Remote operations from unimproved airstrips

Submit a Service Inquiry to learn more about how IAR’s extensive aerial firefighting capabilities and expertise can benefit your organization.

Service Inquiry

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