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Neptune Aviation has new contracts to supply Next Generation tankers for fighting wildfires

By Kevin Maki, KECI Reporter, kmaki@keci.com
Published On: Dec 13 2013 06:24:43 PM MST
MISSOULA, Mont. -

Missoula's Neptune Aviation and the Forest Service have a new contract to supply two Next Generation air tankers.

Last season, the Forest Service chose other competitors to supply the bombers.

But not all their planes were able to meet contractual agreements.

It created tension and worry in the heat of fire season, and spurred Montana's top leaders to action.

U.S. Senator Jon Tester talked with NBC Montana by telephone.

Tester has been lobbying for Neptune for months.

He complimented the aviation company for 20 years of working with the Forest Service.

"They've been incredibly good contracts when it comes to fighting fires," said the Senator," they've been a very good operator."

Tester said he saw the need last summer during a huge wild land fire near Lolo, Montana.

"That was a very dangerous fire," said Tester,"and not more than five miles away Neptune's planes were sitting on the tarmac that could have been used and weren't."

Neptune's chief operating officer, Dan Snyder, said the company is not ready to make any public statements.

The British Aerospace plane is prized for its carrying capacity, its maneuverability, and its speed.

The Next Generation tankers will be available to use across the country.

The new contract will be finalized in 10 business days.

During that time other companies can file protests.