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POINT MUGU : Guard to Get New Firefighting Systems

California Air National Guard units will get new forest firefighting systems for their C-130 transport planes under a defense spending bill that was approved by both houses of Congress Thursday, officials said.

The Air National Guard, which operates a base near the Point Mugu Naval Air Weapons Station, will see two of its aging airborne firefighting systems replaced by new, more powerful units thanks to the defense appropriations bill that will soon be placed on President Clinton’s desk for signature.

The new firefighting systems, which disburse large amounts of fire retardant at high speed, slide into the cargo bays of the large four-engine military transports. The systems will cost an estimated $15 million, officials said.

The appropriation was spurred by a bill introduced last year by Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley), who promoted the idea of buying new equipment for the guard’s aircraft.

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During the summer, Air National Guard crews from the Channel Islands base flew nearly 600 firefighting missions over California, Arizona and Idaho, and dropped an estimated 1.6-million gallons of fire retardant.


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