The Lockheed Martin EC-130Q firefighting aircraft has crashed in the Australian state of New South Wales while combating forest fires.
The crash has been confirmed by commissioner of the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, Shane Fitzsimmons.
The aircraft crashed near the Peak View area, which lies 130km to the south of Canberra in mountainous terrain. Helicopters located the crash site Australian television reports.
EC-130Q N134CG (MSN4904) disappeared at roughly 13:00 local time Coulson Aviation (USA) confirmed. According to Flight Global the aircraft was operated by Coulson Aircrane (USA). Reports indicate that the company has suspended all tanker operations in Australia following the crash.
“The Aircraft had departed Richmond, NSW with a load of retardant and was on a firebombing mission,” says Coulson in a statement. It will send a team to the site to assist emergency operations.
All three crew members were American citizens.
The C-130 was acquired by Coulson in 2017 and converted the aircraft to perform aerial firefighting work. According to Coulson Aviation’s website, the C-130 is the company leading attacker in firefighting. The C-130H Hercules aircraft operated by Coulson Aviation feature a Coulson RADS-XXL 4,000 US Gallon roll-on roll-off tanking system.
Large parts of Australia have been ravaged by forest fires in recent months owing to drought conditions in the country.