The North American Rockwell OV-10 Bronco is a turboprop-driven light attack and observation aircraft. It was developed in the 1960s as a special aircraft for COIN (counter insurgency) combat, and one of its primary missions was as a forward air control (FAC) aircraft. It can carry up to three tons of external munitions, and easily loiters for three or more hours.
Current CalFIRE aircraft have had all of the armor and weapon systems removed. There is an additional 125 gallon fuel tank in the cargo bay allowing us to stay aloft over a fire for over 5 hours. CalFIRE OV10's have also been totally rewired to accommodate up to the date avionics and navigation systems, as well as all of the radios required for airtactical control of the fire.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CDF or CALFIRE) has acquired a number of OV-10As, including the six surviving aircraft from the BLM and 13 U.S. Navy in 1993 to replace their existing Cessna O-2 Skymasters as air attack aircraft. The CAL FIRE Broncos fly with a crew of two, a pilot and the Air Attack Officer, whose job it is to coordinate all aerial assets on a fire with the Incident Commander on the ground. Thus, besides serving as a tanker lead-in aircraft, the OV-10A is also the aerial platform from which the entire air operation is coordinated.