Russian-made air tanker in the U.S.

A Be-200 makes a demonstration drop, using the colors of the Russian (and U.S.) flag

A purpose-built, amphibious, Russian-made air tanker will be at Santa Maria, California on September 26 looking for work. Well, not looking for work right away exactly, since the Be-200 has not been approved by the FAA or the Interagency Air Tanker Board, both of which could be large hurdles to overcome. It is expected that the aircraft will do some demonstrations while it is at Santa Maria.

David Baskett, a Santa Maria businessman and founder of the now defunct Pacific Skyway airline, has been working with the Russian government to bring the plane to the U.S. Mr. Baskett envisions the air tanker, also known as Altair, replacing the aging air tankers presently being used that have an average age of 50.

A Be-200 air tanker, if I did the conversions correctly, can carry up to 3,000 gallons of water or retardant. It also can carry foam concentrate which can be mixed with the water in the tank. The amphibious plane has scoops on the bottom much like the amphibious CL-415 making it possible to skim across a body of water to refill its tank. The Be-200 can also land on a runway and refill with retardant.

The aircraft was designed specifically in the 1990s as an air tanker, one of the few large air tankers that can make that claim. It made its first flight in 2003.

Here is a 17-second video of the aircraft making a drop in Athens, Greece. The video was uploaded to YouTube in 2007.


The 6.5-minute video below appears to be a promotional video about the plane. I want one.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

3 thoughts on “Russian-made air tanker in the U.S.”

  1. Robert,

    Instead of trying to lobby the public for funding, why not try to lobby USDA Secretary Vilsack for the proper use of taxpayer funds to properly support and equip the federal wildfire program?

    Yesterday, USDA Secretary Vilsack announced additional USDA ARRA funding (stimulus funding) and where it was being distributed.

    $193 Million/32 States. You’d be surprised at where your federal taxpayer dollars are being spent.!ut/p/_s.7_0_A/7_0_1OB?contentidonly=true&contentid=2010/04/0186.xml

    1. Some unusual spending to study why people are fat… It seems like several groups are looking for very complex answers to simple problems.

  2. I am interested in getting help to set up a website for fundraising for the Se 200 Firefighter Aircraft made in Russia. May I please be in contact with David Baskett, Director of this project. I am interested in getting evrey citizen across the western states to each contribute $1. Multiplied by the millions of people we should raise enough money to buy one airpcraft. Why should anyone contributre anything? How would you feel if that aircraft dropped retardant and saved your home from buring to the ground? That small $1 is imeasureable to the svaings from your home burning to the ground. Besides everyoine who cointributed $1 would have a sense of feeling they are a small part of the aircraft investment. Any ideas to get this going please let me know. I have researched several articles and seen several videos and that aircraft is an answer to a prayer. I would like to do anything I could to help get this project goingt. I can be contacted at:
    735 Palermo Drive
    Santa Barbara, CA 93105
    (805) 687-8270

    Thank you for your interest and help.


    Robert Allbright


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