New Airtanker Base at COS Airport Will Boost Firefighting Capabilities

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A new Airtanker Base located at the Colorado Springs Airport is up and running. The base, which is run by the USDA Forest Service, boosts firefighting capabilities within a 300 mile radius. The facility can accommodate airtankers of various sizes and has the capacity to deliver up to 85,600 gallons of retardant per hour within that area.

The base includes an operations building, storage facility, retardant mixing plant, and multi-use ramp and has already supported recent fire suppression efforts.

The Colorado Springs Airport was chosen for its sufficient ramp space, which will accommodate increased productivity and faster response times. During high fire activity, the ramp will be used as a retardant reload base for heavy airtankers. In the winter months, the Colorado Springs Airport will use the ramp as a de-icing pad for commercial aircraft.

Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera, City of Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, Congressman Doug Lamborn, Director of Aviation at the Colorado Springs Airport Greg Phillips, and Deputy Regional Forester Jacque Buchanan were present at a ribbon cutting hosted by the City and USDA Forest Service this week to acknowledge the many partners who collaborated on every aspect of the project, from planning to completion of the facility. They also highlighted some of the base’s advanced capabilities and toured the site. 

“We’re no strangers to wildfire here in Colorado Springs. Our location at the foot of Pikes Peak, America’s Mountain, makes Colorado Springs a highly desirable place to live, work, and play, but it also means we have a very large wildland urban interface. We take seriously our role as a leader in managing the wildfire threat. With increasing population in our region and state, and with dangerous fire conditions always on our minds, the Pikes Peak region is an ideal place to locate this airtanker base,” said Mayor John Suthers. “Colorado Springs is always at the forefront of protecting our nation, whether the threat comes from fire, land, air, space, or cyberspace. We welcome the airtanker base to Colorado Springs and look forward to it serving our region, our state and surrounding areas,” he added.

Congress awarded the USDA Forest Service funding for the Colorado Springs Airtanker Base as part of the 2018 Omnibus Bill that repurposed previous allocations to the USDA Forest Service Aviation Safety and Modernization Strategy. This project represents nearly a quarter of the total $37.2 million Aviation Safety Modernization Projects budget and is among the largest investments to be implemented. The City of Colorado Springs provided additional funding.


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