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More Military Air Tankers Join Fight on Wildland Fires

From a 145th Air Expeditionary Group News Release

BOISE, Idaho, June 24, 2013 – Two more Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped military C-130 aircraft are joining the battle against wildland fires in Colorado.

The U.S. Forest Service requested the additional aircraft through the National Interagency Fire Center here.

Two aircraft from the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing, based in Port Hueneme, Calif., deployed yesterday to Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo. They join two C-130s from Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing, based at Peterson, which have been engaged in aerial firefighting for more than a week.

The two California aircraft bring the MAFFS fleet to four airplanes.

The request is in response to an increase in wildland fire activity in southern Colorado and neighboring states and the significant fire potential forecast for the coming week, officials said.

MAFFS initially activated June 11 to assist in fighting forest fires in southern Colorado after the Forest Service sent a request for assistance to the Defense Department through U.S. Northern Command. Since activating, MAFFS aircraft have made 36 drops using 93,830 gallons of fire retardant.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the Forest Service. MAFFS modules are loaded into the cargo bays of military C-130 aircraft.

Led by small Forest Service 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.

A joint Defense Department and Forest Service program, MAFFS provides aerial firefighting resources when commercial and private air tankers are no longer able to meet the Forest Service’s needs. A provisional military air expeditionary group controls the MAFFS resources at the Forest Service’s direction.

 

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