SACRAMENTO – Facing wildfires of epic proportions, California’s firefighting agency is acquiring nearly $300 million worth of new weapons: a dozen high-powered helicopters equipped to drop water on flaming woodlands and fields in darkness, manned by pilots wearing night vision goggles.

One of the Cal Fire Hawks, a sleek, twin-engine helicopter that cruises at 160 mph and costs $24 million, will be based in June at the Vina Helitack Base on Highway 99 north of Chico in Tehama County. It’s capable of reaching Lake Berryessa in 30 minutes, with eight firefighters aboard and 1,000 gallons of water in a tank on its belly.

That’s 15 minutes faster and three times more water than the Vietnam War-era Super Huey copters that will be replaced over time by a modified version of the Sikorsky Black Hawk flown by U.S. forces and others around the world.

Read more at KCRA.com