The National Interagency Fire Center says the U.S. Forest Service has awarded three companies exclusive contracts to provide seven Next Generation Airtankers for fighting forest fires.
The center in a statement Wednesday says that doubles the number of the Next Generation Airtankers in the Forest Service fleet that can fly faster and carry more retardant than older firefighting aircraft still in use.
The agency says Neptune Aviation Services Inc. in Missoula, Montana, will supply four of the tankers.
Aero-Flite Inc. in Spokane, Washington, will supply two of the aircraft and 10 Tanker Air Carrier in Albuquerque, New Mexico, will supply one.
Forest Service officials say the agency is making progress modernizing its fleet of large air tankers.