Air tanker

An air tanker drops a load of foscheck fire retardant on a brush fire in Angeles National Forest above La Canada in 2009. (Roger Wilson/Staff photographer / May 3, 2013)

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and nearly a dozen other members of Congress this week asked for an update from the Department of Defense on sending surplus military aircraft to the U.S. Forest Service, aircraft that could assist in fighting wildfires.

Congress had made the allocation for the transfer in its 2013 military spending plan after the Air Force indicated it was planning to get rid of the C-27J transport aircraft, which could be used as a support platform in fighting forest fires.

In a letter co-signed by Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and 11 other members of Congress, Schiff asked Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for an update on any possible transfer of surplus aircraft to the Forest Service.

In the National Defense Authorization Act for 2013, Congress authorized the Forest Service to obtain seven aircraft.

“Recapitalizing a portion of the Forest Service fleet with modern, 21st century aircraft is a practical, cost-effective opportunity that will improve the federal government’s wildfire suppression capabilities and enhance fire crew safety,” the letter states.

-- Daniel Siegal, daniel.siegal@latimes.com

Follow on Google+ and on Twitter: @Daniel_Siegal.