Daines, Gianforte Applaud Forest Service Solicitation for Next Generation Airtankers

U.S. CONGRESS — U.S. Senator Steve Daines and Congressman Greg Gianforte applauded the U.S. Forest Service’s (USFS) release of the Request for Proposals for “Next Generation 3.0” contracts for large airtankers for fire support. These airtankers will be responsible for delivering retardant in fire suppression efforts nationwide.

“Large airtankers are a critical tool in the fight to contain wildland fires,” Daines said. “I am thankful the Forest Service has responded to our request to issue the solicitation so our brave firefighters will have the fastest, most cost-effective airtankers into the future.”

“I appreciate the Forest Service responding to our request to issue the solicitation for the Next Generation 3.0 contracts,” Gianforte said. “New airtankers will ensure our firefighters have more tools in their belt to combat wildfires.”

In November, Daines and Gianforte sent a letter to USFS Chief Vicki Christiansen, requesting the agency issue the solicitation without any further delay. Click HERE to read the full letter.


The “Next Generation 3.0” airtankers will replace former legacy aircraft that were used in aerial fire suppression efforts and are more than 50 years old.

The airtanker industry, including Missoula-based Neptune Aviation, has been awaiting the agency’s solicitation of Next Generation airtankers since February 2017.

Neptune Aviation has made significant investments in acquiring and converting aircraft for the wildland firefighting mission and currently has nine Next Generation airtankers in its fleet.

As of November 29, 2018, there have been 1,302 fires burning 97,250 acres in Montana.