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US Governor, Company Want to Test Russian Firefighting Plane

RIA Novosti

21:29 10/07/2013 WASHINGTON, July 10 (RIA Novosti) – A California businessman wants to test an amphibious Russian firefighting plane in Idaho this summer, hoping to lure away profitable US government contracts from tankers currently in use to combat wildfires that now cost $2 billion a year, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter sent a letter to David Baskett, president of California-based International Emergency Services, inviting him to demonstrate the Russian-made twin jet Beriev Be-200 in Boise, according to the AP.

The Be-200 can land on water and scoop up 3,000 gallons (11,356 liters) of water into its hull, potentially making it more efficient than aircraft that must land to be re-filled with flame retardant or water.

Baskett bought ten Beriev Be-200 jets last year in what was touted as a breakthrough to the US market, but he has yet to win Federal Aviation Administration approval to fly the planes. The US Forest Service says the Be-200 has not passed any of the safety tests that would allow it to fly in the US, the AP reported.

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