U.S. air tankers in Alaska

palmer alaska air tankers
A photo of six air tankers at Palmer, Alaska on June 18, 2015, showing T-260, T-160, T-55, T-52, T-47 and T-43 (photo courtesy of John Bell). Click to enlarge.

In addition to the Canadian air tankers being assigned to Alaska (seven recently that we know of) there are three air tankers under contract with the U.S. Forest Service in the state, according to information we received from today from Jennifer Jones, a spokesperson for the agency:

  1. T-160 Aero-Flite RJ85
  2. T-10 Neptune BAe-146
  3. T-101 Aero Air MD87
BAe-146 and RJ85
A BAe-146, T-10, and an RJ85, T-160, on the BLM-Alaska Fire Service Tanker Base tarmac, May 23, 2015, on Ladd Air Field at Fort Wainwright.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Mike and John.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.

14 thoughts on “U.S. air tankers in Alaska”

  1. 2.5. U.S. Tankers really. Let’s be honest and realize Aeroflite is really Conair. I have heard too many times of AK state fire officials poo pooing US companies from Fire Boss’ on up now. I think the State fire officials deserve to explain why they favor Canadian companies over US companies.
    Believe me when I say if it happened in Canada heads would be rolling….. Oh wait…..it wouldn’t happen!!!!!

    1. Except that it has happened. 10 Tanker enjoyed a positive deployment to Alberta (last I checked, it’s part of Canada) and under the same fire conditions, that (wholly US owned and based) aircraft would be welcomed back with open arms.

      As for “favoring” Canadian companies, read this: forestry.alaska.gov/pdfs/NWcompact.pdf Can you name any US state signatories that have any airtanker resources available to assist Alaska?

      1. Hi again.
        Neptune, 10 tanker and possibly Erickson were,are ready to assist. A bird tells me one of those companies even offered a plane or more and they went to Conair instead. I mean come on Chris, another poster said the same…. US next gen planes waiting for a fed contract sit in their respective states waiting.
        Yes every now and then a US tanker crosses the border but Nothing like what happens on US soil.
        None of your points change the argument Chris. Canada is very protectionist and it’s great. We should be too. Thats it. It’s called taking care of our own first, like they would do. If you exhaust resources then by all means go for it.

        1. Furthermore, how about the Minnesota operator of Fire Boss aircraft that were denied going to AK last year and Conair sent their Firebosses?
          They had been up there in yrs past but denied last yr due to “Internal politics”. What’s that?
          They are up this yr which is good but Conair was first, which many people find, well, wrong.

          1. Conair has not had any Firebosses in Alaska.For the past few years the Minnesota Firebosses have been up supporting fires in Alaska. Conair has sent them up to the NWT a few times when requested through other agencies.

        2. TDH, I should have made myself more clear. We’re not talking about a federal request to operate over federal lands. This is a state request. Alaska is a member of the NW Compact as I mentioned, and the other American members (WA, OR, ID & MT) simply don’t have any airtanker or skimmer resources to lend a hand. The only options then, are BC, AB and YT, and that’s exactly where the help originated.

          When the USFS needs a hand on federal lands in AK, they call federal resources from the Lower 48 and as we see in Fairbanks, there are currently planes from Erickson, AeroFlite and Neptune sitting there.

          Sure, Alaska DNR could opt for American federal air tankers, but because they’re on USFS contracts, those planes would be deployed on fed fires foremost and state fires only if there’s no conflict. If I were a DNR land manager, that’s not an acceptable level of risk to assume.

        3. Hi again TDH. Looks like your wish may soon be granted. Expect a couple USFS tankers to move to Alberta very soon. Most likely an RJ and a Herc.
          Which ironically, will be a case of Canadian tankers coming home?

          Anyway, it would blow up the theory of those darned protectionists up north.

      1. Not fully, but they hold a controlling share and Sr Mgmt from Abbotsford are in place in Spokane.

  2. When I went to SB Tanker base a spokes person mentioned the C130’s on the fire in the morning, that’s all I know. If it was Coulson’s it wasn’t at the SB base yesterday afternoon, why would they leave?

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