Wings Over Fire Tony Morris – 01-25-14





Wings Over Fire

Tony Morris – 01-25-14


It is encouraging to hear that the Federal Government has made available more C-130 air tankers to the U.S. Forest Service, to aid in the suppression of wildfires.  What is less encouraging is the time required to prepare these aircraft to fight wildfires. Is it necessary to wait months or even years to prepare these aircraft to participate in Aerial Firefighting? Are there any other solutions? What if water or retardant could be dropped directly from the aircraft without a tank or modification to the airframe required?


The Caylym Guardian Container Delivery System (CDS) delivers wildfire fighting capability using aircraft which do not require additional modification. The European Union is already adopting this system through the Romanian Air Force (RoAF). A second year of testing the Guardian system with the Romanian Air Force’s C-27J Spartan feet was completed at the end of 2013.


Rick Goddard, Managing Director of Caylym, manufacturers of the Guardian system, noted there are approximately 280 Air National Guard “Cargo Configured” C-130 aircraft in the U.S. Using the seven MAFFS  II aircraft provides only 2.4% of the potentially available aircraft. Not all of the “Cargo Configured” C-130 aircraft would be available or in country at a given time, but any increase in the capability to fight wildfires, especially leveraging existing resources, must surely be considered. The untold story regarding the real cost of post fire clean-up and recovery is not factored into the economics of potential new solutions. The clean-up and infrastructure repair costs of the Rim Fire are now estimated to be over the $100 million it cost to fight the fire.


If only 50% of the aircraft are available, with crews, that would provide 20 times more aircraft that would be able to deliver over 40% more payload each( 16 Guardian units @ 4,200 gallons each drop) than MAFFS at 3 to 4 times the altitude with 15% higher drop speed, 24 hours a day. Shouldn’t we use all available means to fight fires? Each system and method has its strengths: Tankers, Guardian, Helicopters and Scoopers like the 415.


One C-130H can transport 80 empty Guardian units and a fill station to an Air Tanker base. With a $6 million investment 8,000 Guardian units could be staged throughout the country. This represents over 2.1 million gallons of delivery capability (500 air drops of 4,200 gallons each). Delivery cost is estimated to be $2.84 per gallon. According to Caylym’s Goddard Guardian units could be dropped on “Almost any wildfire prone area of the country in under three hours.”


Recently I spoke with Caylym’s Rick Goddard about the Guardian Container Delivery system.



Fighting wildfires is a dangerous profession to begin with. What is the most effective way to introduce the Guardian system to veteran wildfire fighters who may question its safety?



The Guardian is an early Initial Attack tool. It is best used to safely hit the gaps in a line of retardant, freeing up other close air support resources during a sustained attack.



When did the demonstration testing start with the Romanian Air Force? How many units will be dropped in this (2013) year’s testing?



Testing and evaluation began in the summer of 2012 culminating in joint Certification trials by Alenia and the Romanian Air Force (RoAF) with Caylym’s support. Starting this summer-2013- RoAF and Alenia purchased 400 Guardian Systems and the associated ground support gear to conduct advanced training beginning this Fall. The Caylym training team was in Romania to support this advanced training. RoAF sees the Guardian system as part of an overall EU Civil Protection Mechanism support resource using their C-27Js and both their C-130 aircraft.



How many Guardian units can be dropped from a C-27J?



Six Guardian units per drop, 6000 liters/1500 gallons.



How many Guardian units can the C-130J carry?



16 units in the C-130J



Will testing be completed in the U.S. with the Air National Guard C-130Js?



Yes, we are in discussion with both the ANG and Lockheed Martin regarding integration of the Guardian into the mission capability of the C-130J.



Where is the Guardian Assembly Facility?



Fresno CA. We are in discussion with and assembler in Ohio as well to expand our capacity as we grow into international markets.


Madalin Marin, Offset and Industrial Cooperation Manager has been coordinating the Guardian drops with the Romanian Air Force.



When did Caylym enter into an agreement to test the Guardian System with the Romanian Air Force (RoAF)?



The story about this is long and interesting. The Mount Carmel forest fire in Israel was the starting point of this program. The Mount Carmel forest fire was a deadly forest fire that started on Mount Carmel in northern Israel, just south of Haifa.


The fire began at about 11:00 a.m. local time on December 2nd,2010, and spread quickly, consuming much of the Mediterranean forest covering the region. The fire claimed 44 live, making it the deadliest in Israeli history. Government officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on other countries to help assist in firefighting efforts, and the Israel Defense Forces mobilized troops for the same purpose.


The fire was defeated on 5 December after raging for four days. Unfortunately for the Romanian Government we did not have any means to help Israel at that time. After this incident the Romanian Defense Ministry asked our country, Lord Expert Consult, in our position as Alenia Aermacchi local representative, to develop, together with Alenia, an offset program by which the newly acquired C-27J Spartan medium-sized military transport aircraft would be able to perform aerial firefighting missions.


In this respect we found the Caylym Guardian System that, in our opinion, is the most adequate firefighting system that can be used on  a military transport platform. We proposed the system to Alenia and the RoAF and the rest is history. 


I understand the Romanian Air Force intends to drop Guardian units on active wildfires in Romania. Can you explain how this will work?



Right now, the RoAF perform, at the request of the Government of Romania, civil protection missions, Med Evac missions, evacuations. At this time, for aerial firefighting the Romanian government can count on only 3 helicopters equipped with Bambi buckets. So the need for these C-27J aircraft with the Guardian capability is very important.



Could the Guardian units be used in Initial Attack to extinguish wildfires when they are small, before they burn out of control?



This is the main target of the system. The characteristics of the system loaded in an aircraft such as the C-27J Spartan (short deployment time, high speed of the aircraft and the precision of the Guardian system) recommend this ensemble for such missions.


Alenia Aermacchi, manufacturer of the C-27J issued a Press Release:

“An innovative firefighting system approved for the C-27J Spartan.” The Guardian

System containers “feature a standard dimension A22 delivery system which can be installed on aircraft of the C-130 and C-27J class without any peculiar equipment or modification and can be launched at higher altitudes (1,500 feet) than traditional firefighting aircraft, thus significantly increasing mission safety and allowing night operations.”


For detailed information on the Caylym Guardian Container Delivery System:

E-mail Rick Goddard :








  1. Bob Forbes says:

    I guess they will have to do the cup testing like everybody else. And THAT I would like to see,

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