U.S. Forest Service renews wildfire air tanker contracts

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The U.S. Forest Service has renewed contracts with two air tanker companies to help fight wildfires this year.

The two companies are Minden Air Corp., of Minden, Nevada, and Neptune Aviation Services, Inc., of Missoula, Montana. Minden will fly one P2V air tanker for the Forest Service. Neptune will fly six P2Vs and one jet-powered BAe-146 under the contract renewals announced Thursday.

The purpose of the planes is to drop fire retardant to slow the spread of wildfires.

The propeller-driven P2Vs can drop up to 2,000 gallons of retardant at a time. The BAe-146 is faster can hold up to 3,000 gallons of retardant.

The Forest Service plans to award additional contracts for a next generation of jet-powered air tanker planes in the weeks ahead.

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