First, we learned that the U.S. Forest service ordered a helicopter in San Diego not to drop water on the then infant Cedar fire, now we’re told that a massive Russian-built plane that could have made fighting the fires much easier is being refused by the Feds.
The IL-76 can drop a near-solid sheet of water on an area the size of 12 football fields in 10 seconds, and because it uses a gravitational, rather than a pressurized, release system, which creates a simulated downpour rather than an aerosol mist, much more of the water released from its holds actually makes it to the ground. Since 1995, the Russians have repeatedly offered a pair of manned, tanked and waiting IL-76s during major U.S. fire outbreaks—asking only for primary expenses to be covered—but the US Forest Service, the body in charge of all wildfire control on federal land, has told them time and again that their services were neither needed nor wanted. Now, they no longer keep the immense aircrafts waiting in the wings, and are waiting for someone from the US government to step forward and ask them over.
Ah, you’ve got to marvel at the small minds in big bureaucracies.