MAFFS aircraft and crews remain available for recall if the wildland fire situation dictates.
In a notice to the Department of Defense issued yesterday, the Forest Service said wildland fire activity had begun to moderate, and that, along with the increased availability of civilian air tankers, has allowed the release of the military aircraft, their crews and ground support personnel.
Two MAFFS C-130s, both from the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard, had remained on duty at McClellan Air Tanker Base outside of Sacramento, Calif., following the release of three others by the Forest Service yesterday evening. Those aircraft, one from the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard, based in Cheyenne, Wyo., is slated to fly home from McClellan today. The other two, both from the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, will stand down at their home airfield at Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Port Hueneme, Calif., where they had operated in recent days.
Since the year’s initial activation on June 11, MAFFS crews have flown 572 missions and made 535 drops utilizing 1,375,981 gallons of Phos-Chek fire retardant. This summer, they have fought fires in Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, California and Nevada.
MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the USFS. MAFFS modules are loaded into the cargo bays of military C-130 aircraft. Following USFS lead planes, military aircrews can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant from the MAFFS modules along the leading edge of a forest fire in less than five seconds and cover an area a quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, ground crews at a MAFFS tanker base can refill the modules in less than 12 minutes.
An interagency DoD and USFS program, MAFFS provides aerial firefighting resources when commercial and private air tankers are no longer able to meet the needs of the Forest Service. The military AEG exercises control over MAFFS resources at the direction of the USFS.
Four C-130 Wings perform the MAFFS mission, each providing two MAFFS-capable aircraft and the air and ground crews needed to operate them. They are the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard; 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard; 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard; and the 302nd Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve Command, in Colorado.
U.S. Northern Command is the joint combatant command formed in the wake of the Sept.11, 2001, terrorist attacks to provide homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities. USNORTHCOM provides DoD capabilities for disaster response operations in support of the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Interagency Fire Center, and state and local officials.
- Aircraft Deploy to California to Aid Firefighting Effort (defense.gov)
- Stunning video shows C-130 pilot’s view of the California’s Rim Fire (theaviationist.com)
- AF Reserve MAFFS C-130s, crews back in Colorado (aurorasentinel.com)