U. S. Air Force Reserve trains Thailand Royal Air Force air tanker pilots

MAFFS training in Thailand
An air drop from a MAFFS in Thailand.

Seven members of the 302 Air Wing based at the U. S. Air Force Reserve’s 302 Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado traveled to Thailand in January, 2010 to train airmen of the Royal Thai Air Force on the C-130 Hercules aerial firefighting tactics and strategies while using the Modular Airborne Firefighting System (MAFFS). They provided three weeks of expert training that drew on decades of experience in fighting fires from the air. The training included one week of classroom instruction followed by tactical flying and actual MAFFS airdrops.

MAFFS training in Thailand
A practice air drop from a MAFFS in Thailand.

The United States has four Air National Guard and Air Force reserve bases that each have two MAFFS slip-in units to enable a military C-130 aircraft to serve temporarily as an air tanker if all commercially operated air tankers are committed. The four bases are Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing in Cheyenne, Wyoming; 145th Airlift Wing of the North Carolina Air National Guard in Charlotte, N.C.; the 146th Airlift Wing of the California Air National Guard in Port Hueneme, Calif., and the 302nd Airlift Wing with the U.S. Air Force Reserve of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

MAFFS training in Thailand
Royal Thai Air Force and the U. S. Air Force Reserve in the back of a C-130 MAFFS.

The Royal Thai Air Force is using the first generation MAFFS, while the U.S. is transitioning to the newest version, the MAFFS II which we covered HERE and HERE.

MAFFS training in Thailand
Members of the Royal Thai Air Force meet with members of the U. S. Air Force Reserve's 302 Airlift Wing based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado

MAFFS training in Thailand. DC-3 air tanker.
Chief Master Sgt. James D. Riley chief loadmaster with the Air Force Reserve’s 302nd Airlift Wing steps away from a PT-47, a modified version of the DC-3 at Phitsanulok Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand.

More information about the mission to Thailand. More photos.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.