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Aircraft Join Texas, Northwest Firefighting Efforts

U.S. Northern Command

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Sept. 9, 2011 – Six Defense Department C-130 aircraft equipped with U.S. Forest Service modular airborne firefighting systems have been tasked by U.S. Northern Command in support of the National Interagency Fire Center to supplement wildland firefighting efforts in Texas and in the Pacific Northwest.

Four aircraft -- two from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson AFB, Colo., and two from the 145th Airlift Wing of the North Carolina Air National Guard -- will deploy to Austin, Texas, to help fight fires there.

Two C-130s and crews from the 153rd Airlift Wing assigned to the Wyoming Air National Guard will stage out of Boise, Idaho, to provide support as needed for fires in western states. About 90 Air Reserve crews and support personnel will deploy to support the aerial firefighting missions.

“This has been a very active fire season. We exceeded our annual average of fire missions two months ago and this is now becoming one of the most active fire seasons we have faced,” said Air Force Lt. Col. David Condit, deputy commander of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group.

The 302nd AEG is comprised of personnel from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing, Colo., North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing and Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing.

MAFFS is a self-contained, portable aerial firefighting system, which can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds over an area one-quarter of a mile long by 60-feet wide. Once the load is discharged, the MAFFS system can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.

With the use of new MAFFS II units, this year’s fire season was the first to successfully fly fire missions that increased effectiveness while decreasing costs.

The MAFFS units are owned by the U.S. Forest Service, one of several federal and state government agencies and organizations with roles and responsibilities in wildland fire suppression that make up the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. The Defense Department is flying at the request of NIFC.

The DOD, through the commander of U.S. Northern Command, provides support to the NIFC in conducting wildland firefighting operations within the continental United States, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as approved by the Secretary of Defense.


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