Forest Service gets bigger, faster air tankers to fight wildfires

May 6 2013 - 4:43pm

Images

This Aug. 29, 2011 file photo shows a DC-10 air tanker dropping fire retardant on the Powerline Fire near Warm Springs, Ore. The U.S. Forest Service announced May 6, 2013 that it has chosen seven aircraft offered by contractors to be the next generation of firefighting aircraft, among them a DC-10. Awarding of the contracts must wait to see if any bidders file protests. The Forest Service has used the DC-10 when needed in the past, but the new contract would be the first time the agency has planned use of such a large aircraft for firefighting. (AP Photo/The Bulletin, Rob Kerr)
This Aug. 29, 2011 file photo shows a DC-10 air tanker dropping fire retardant on the Powerline Fire near Warm Springs, Ore. The U.S. Forest Service announced May 6, 2013 that it has chosen seven aircraft offered by contractors to be the next generation of firefighting aircraft, among them a DC-10. Awarding of the contracts must wait to see if any bidders file protests. The Forest Service has used the DC-10 when needed in the past, but the new contract would be the first time the agency has planned use of such a large aircraft for firefighting. (AP Photo/The Bulletin, Rob Kerr)

 

GRANTS PASS, Ore. -- The U.S. Forest Service is gearing up for a tough wildfire season by adding to its large air tanker fleet seven planes that fly faster and will drop a bigger payload of fire retardant than in the past.

The long-anticipated contracts announced Monday total $158 million and include several models of aircraft, including one for a converted DC10 that's bigger than anything the Forest Service has used on a regular basis.

The newer planes join the aging fleet of eight large tankers, mostly Korean War-era submarine chasers.

The agency says the new planes can meet the same demands as the larger fleet of smaller and slower fleet of years past.

The large air tanker fleet has dwindled from 46 in 1990, partly due to a series of fatal crashes.

 

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