The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) is soliciting bids to purchase two multi-mission fixed wing aircraft which will primarily be used to gather intelligence about ongoing wildfires. From the specifications we have seen, they might also serve as a platform for an Air Tactical Group Supervisor.
The solicitation indicates that the government will own the aircraft but they will be operated and maintained by a contractor, fitting the Government-Owned/Contractor-Operated (GO/CO) model. The contractor will be “required to operate and provide maintenance services, facilities, supplies and personnel for the aircraft”.
The DFPC wants the aircraft to be outfitted with an extensive array of capabilities, including:
- Thermal imagery;
- color imagery;
- geo-posiiton of captured imagery;
- orthorectified imagery;
- real-time location tracking of the aircraft;
- near real-time moving imagery to ground stations;
- recording and mapping the location of aerially applied water or fire retardant;
- recording and mapping a fire’s progression over time;
- sensor operator shall be capable of communicating with wildfire management personnel using a textual chat tool;
- provide incident reports directly to the state’s information management system to include fire location perimeter, fire intensity map, and fire behavior description.
The aircraft will be a single or dual engine turboprop capable of carrying one pilot and three passengers, and shall cruise at more than 250 KTAS.
The requirements of these aircraft remind us of a Request for Information the U.S. Forest Service issued last August in which they intended to contract for 7 and later up to 15 aircraft outfitted with high-tech sensors to serve as platforms for aerial supervision on wildfires.
The time frames of Colorado’s solicitation are very tight:
At least one of these Aircraft shall be delivered to DFPC ready to perform missions by July 15, 2014. The second Aircraft shall be delivered to DFPC ready to perform missions by October 15, 2014.
It would take the USFS many months or years to do this. And it may or may not be possible for Colorado to get one of these aircraft delivered by July 15 fully outfitted with all of the equipment they have specified, and with pilots, technicians, and a maintenance contract all squared away. The solicitation was issued on June 10, with a response due date of June 24, giving the successful bidder 21 days to deliver the first aircraft. (And we thought the USFS giving the next-generation air tanker bidders 90 days to deliver their aircraft was tight.)
Today, June 13, is the due date for Colorado’s solicitation for two or three firefighting helicopters which will be required to begin work on July 1, 2014. And next year they expect to contract for up to four large air tankers.
Thanks and a hat tip go out to Bean.