Carbajal Leads Effort to Secure California National Guard Black Hawk Helicopter Modernization
Critical updates made to fleet on frontlines of California’s wildfires
Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24), member of the House Armed Services Committee, announced that the California Army National Guard has procured twenty UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters to be added to their fleet in 2018.
As the Thomas Fire continues to threaten homes and communities on the Central Coast, hundreds of California National Guard troops have mobilized to support firefighting efforts, including four Black Hawk helicopters. Each fire season, California National Guard Black Hawks log over 500 hours and drop more than one million gallons of water, saving lives and property.
"Upgrading the National Guard’s Black Hawk fleet is critical to ensuring California can effectively combat California's frequent wildfires, often covering difficult terrain,” said Salud Carbajal. “As our first-responders battle one of the largest fires in California’s history, I am grateful that Cal Guard will receive aircraft with increased reliability as we prepare for future natural disasters.”
"The California National Guard is constantly preparing for the next major disaster and with fire season now stretching all the way to Christmas, assets like the UH-60M Blackhawk will be critical to our disaster response, " said Major General and California Adjutant General Davis S. Baldwin. "We are extremely thankful to Representative Carbajal for his staunch leadership in Congress and for ensuring our men and women have the tools they need for success."
Carbajal requested additional Black Hawks for the Army in the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and the Defense Appropriations bill in an effort to transfer some of Army’s existing Black Hawks to National Guards like California’s that desperately need more modernized capabilities.
California National Guard has been flying one of the oldest fleets of Black Hawks in the country. Sixty-five percent of the California National Guard’s 34 Black Hawks were built before 1990 and, 15% of these were built in the 1970s. The operating cost of these older Black Hawks were not only impacting its operations during natural disasters such as wildfires but driving up operational costs.
Earlier this week, Rep. Carbajal met with Vice President Pence and FEMA officials officials at the White House to discuss federal assistance for the Thomas Fire, which has burned over 237,500 acres in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.
Congressman Salud Carbajal proudly represents the 24th Congressional District of California. The District includes the entirety of San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties, and a portion of Ventura County.