(Originally published August 5, 2015; updated August 8, 2015)
Over the last year the U.S. Forest Service has awarded or solicited for at least five contracts for conversion and maintenance of the 15 C-23B aircraft that were authorized to be transferred from the U.S. Army to the USFS by legislation signed in December of 2013. The C-23B is the military version of the Shorts 360 (also known as a Sherpa and SD3-60). The USFS plans to use these aircraft to replace all of the USFS owned and contracted aircraft used for smokejumping except for two agency-owned DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otters that will be retained for backcountry operations.
These contracts include:
- Development installation, and certification of an integrated flight deck and avionics system on 4 to 15 of the aircraft. Awarded July 29, 2015 to Field Aerospace.
- Paint up to 15 of the aircraft. Awarded August 19, 2014 to Straube’s Aircraft Services.
- Aviation maintenance services to support USFS fleet aircraft in Boise, Idaho. This also includes other aircraft: Aero Commander AC 500B, Beechcraft King Air Series, Bell 206BIII, Bell AH-1 Cobra, Cessna Citation 550 Bravo, Cessna C-185, Cessna TU206, DeHaviland DHC-2 Beaver, DeHaviland DHC-6 Twin Otter, Piper PA18-150, and Shorts C-23A Sherpa. Awarded December 15, 2014 to Turbo Air, Inc.
- Avionics maintenance services to support for USFS fleet aircraft within a 150 nautical mile radius of Redmond, OR, Ogden, UT, and Missoula, MT. This also includes support for Aero Commander AC 500B, Beechcraft King Air Series, Bell 206BIII, Bell AH-1 Cobra, Cessna Citation 550 Bravo, Cessna C-185, Cessna TU206, DeHaviland DHC-2 Beaver, DeHaviland DHC-6 Twin Otter, Piper PA18-150, and Shorts C-23A Sherpa. There is no indication on fbo.gov that this has been awarded.
- Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Support Services to include subscriptions to technical publications, maintenance technical support, engineering data, engineering technical support, and maintenance support. On July 9, 2015 a sole source award was given to Shorts Brothers, doing business as Bombardier Aerospace.
- Maintenance services Contractor Logistics Services (CLS) in support of smokejumper operations, primarily in Ogden, Utah. Awarded to Neptune Aviation, June 30, 2015.
The agency will use a Government Owned-Mixed Operations (GO/MO) model for the C-23B fleet. Some will be operated by Forest Service pilots and others will be operated by private industry under contract. The aircraft will also be maintained under a GO/MO model with contractor and agency maintenance