MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Neptune Aviation has been awarded five-year contracts to fly four retardant bombers in the U.S. Forest Service's fire aviation fleet.

The Missoulian reports the four BAe-146 planes are part of the Forest Service's "next generation" firefighting program and the contracts are worth about $5 million a year, per plane. Neptune also has an agreement to convert 15 military surplus planes into smokejumper and cargo aircraft. Neptune has six remodeled BAe passenger jets fitted with 3,000-gallon retardant tanks.

Competitors had challenged previous contracts awarded to Neptune, prompting several reviews. Jennifer Jones of the Forest Service says this fall's contracts came through unprotested, and they should be effective for next fire season. Neptune is based in Missoula and has a maintenance base in Alamogordo, New Mexico.