Military MAFFS air tankers activated

MAFFS 2 tank

Update at 8:40 a.m. MT June 18, 2011: Two additional MAFFS aircraft have been activated. The second two are from North Carolina. All four will be based at Albuquerque, NM.

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MAFFS C-130 Texas 4-2011
MAFFS C-130 dropping in Texas, April, 2011. CNN

Two Modular Airborne Firefighting System (MAFFS) equipped military C-130 aircraft have been activated and dispatched to the southwest to help fight the numerous large fires that have burned hundreds of thousands of acres this month. The California based air tankers left June 16 for their new temporary base at Kirtland Air Force Base at Albuquerque, New Mexico. The MAFFS air tankers can carry 3,000 gallons of retardant.

There are a total of eight MAFFS units, positioned in four states, two units per state.

In April six MAFFS from military bases California, North Carolina, Wyoming, and Colorado were activated for fires. Four were used on wildfires in Texas, while two were based at Laughlin Air Force Base in Texas but were used on fires about 60 miles away from Laughlin in Mexico. The MAFFS did not see a lot of use in Texas because about the time they were activated humid air moved into the state, slowing the spread of the fires. But two of them were pretty busy in Mexico.

The rules that govern the use of the C-130s require that privately-owned air tankers be fully committed before the military aircraft can be used on fires.

MAFFS 2 tank
MAFFS 2 tank, the new version of the MAFFS, which is loaded into a C-130 when the aircraft is activated as an air tanker.
MAFFS 2 interior
The interior of a MAFFS 2, showing the retardant discharge and emergency high pressure air release tubes going through the side paratrooper door. Loadmaster Bill Whitlatch operates a new MAFFS 2 unit aboard a C-130J aircraft with the Channel Islands Air National Guard. Photo by Stephen Osman, Ventura County Star.

HERE is a list of some of the recent articles at Wildfire Today that mentioned the MAFFS air tankers.

 

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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