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Very Large Air Tanker arrives in Victoria

21 January 2016

The DC-10 Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) firefighting bomber aircraft has landed in Victoria as part of the national firefighting aviation fleet.

Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the VLAT, the largest of Australia’s fleet of firefighting aircraft, had relocated from NSW to Victoria, where it will join two other Large Air Tankers (LATS), based at Avalon airport.

“Now the risk is decreasing in the northern part of NSW, it has been relocated to Victoria to support what is traditionally now the peak of our season,” Mr Lapsley said.

The VLAT will be based at Avalon, joining the two Large Air Tankers (LATs) that have been based at Avalon since December 2015.

It  can fly across to other states including South Australia and support their firefighting operations if needed.

The VLAT contract is funded in a partnership between the Commonwealth and Victoria Governments.  NSW will continue to operate a LAT from Richmond Airbase, Sydney.  

“This relocation and funding is important to maintain the four largest aircraft in Australia – the VLAT and the three LATs,” Mr Lapsley said.

VLAT fast facts:

  • The Very Large Air Tanker (VLAT) DC-10 has been in NSW since November. It forms part of a national fleet but has been based in NSW to support their fire season, which is traditionally earlier than Victoria’s.
  • Due to its size and capacity, the VLAT will only be used on specific fires. This is where long lines of retardant might need to be dropped for indirect attack.
  • There have been LATs operating in Victoria since September, at major fires including Scotsburn and Lancefield.
  • The addition of VLAT means Victoria is well resourced with a range of large aircraft including two Large Air Tankers, three orange Erikson Aircranes and two Sikorsky helicopters.
  • The LAT is the largest of the firefighting aircraft and has been based in Sydney for the summer.
  • The VLAT will be supported by a supervising aircraft called a Bird Dog
  • Other large aircraft include Victoria’s two Large Air Tankers, RJ and Hercules, the three orange Erikson Aircranes, Ichabod, Elsie and Gypsy Lady and two Sikorsky helicopters.
  • Primary role is for firebombing