The two DC-10 air tankers operated by 10 Tanker Air Carrier have dropped more retardant this year than the seven to eight Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) C-130 aircraft flown by the military. The DC-10s have dropped, according to 10 Tanker, 2.408 million gallons through August 27 during 215 flights for an average of 11,200 gallons per flight.The MAFFS, according to the August 29 Government Security News, have dropped 2.153 million gallons through August 24, employing 899 flights to do so. This indicates an average of 2,394 gallons per flight for the MAFFS aircraft.
The DC-10s have a Call When Needed contract with the U.S. Forest Service and are only activated when the USFS decides to use them. This year one of them, Tanker 911, was called up (these dates are approximate) June 11 and released on June 16. It was reactivated around August 3 and the second DC-10, Tanker 910, was put on active duty on approximately August 7.
One of the eight MAFFS C-130s crashed July 1, 2012 while dropping on the White Draw fire west of Hot Springs, South Dakota, killing four crewpersons and injuring two. While the military has many C-130s, there were only eight of the second generation MAFFS2 units which can be loaded into the cargo hold of the aircraft making it possible for it to hold up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant. And of course the crew can’t be replaced, only substituted.