USFS (F&AM) Fire and Aviation Management... The M really stands for Mismanagement.
The Forest Service has done nothing over the past 25 years to address the aging fleet or airtankers. That's why the fleet has done nothing but dwindle down from several dozen Type I and Type II airtankers to the whopping 9 we now have covering the entire country. There used to be 5 and 6 times as many of them, but years of inaction have taken their toll. They have only taken 2 actions over the past 25 years; cancelling contracts and commissioning studies on what to do. They've killed off numerous businesses, Aero Union last year (the most capable company) and most recently 10 Tanker Air Carrier the owner of the two DC-10s -- they'll be closing for business at the end of this season.
One business that won't be closing because of the USFS is RAND Corporation, to whom they have awarded no less than a dozen studies on what to do with airtankers. Each study costs millions of taxpayer dollars. Then, they do nothing with each study when its completed. Something they HAVE done numerous times is upon receiving a RAND study, they immediately, within a matter of days, pay several more million to RAND to start a new study. It's a joke within the industry that all the USFS knows how to do is commission a study, then commission a new study to study the study before ordering a new study.
It's a typical government bureaucracy. More capable of mismanagement and wasteful spending than anything else. Incompetence. And this is why year after year there are less and less tankers than the year before. Now that there will no longer be any VLATs, there's another tool missing from the toolbox. Evergreen got smart and decided to quit screwing with the USFS and just get out. They're a big enough company, they can afford it. 10 Tanker can't. The USFS has a history of using companies up and then kicking them to the curb to rot.
The sad thing is, people will have to get used to the Colorado Springs experience. These fires only get harder to fight with the USFS shooting holes in its fleet.