Modular Airborne Firefighting System (MAFFS) equipped military C-130 aircraft continue to supplement the fleet of privately-owned air tankers fighting wildfires in the southwest. Initially four were activated on June 15, and two are still working out of Kirtland Air Force base at Albuquerque, New Mexico. Here is an excerpt from a July 8 news release from the U.S. Northern Command:
Since being activated by the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho June 15, the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group has performed 242 airdrops, dropping 559,993 gallons of fire retardant to help contain wildfires in the Southwest. Recent MAFFS efforts have been concentrated on the Las Conchas fire near Los Alamos in New Mexico.
Under the direction of the Joint Forces Air Component Commander for Air Forces Northern, four C-130 Hercules aircraft equipped with fire fighting capabilities deployed to Kirtland AFB, N.M. as part of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group. Command and control of the aircraft is being provided by the 302nd AEG from Boise, Idaho.
The 302nd AEG is comprised of personnel from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing, Colo., the California Air National Guard’s 146th AW, Wyoming ANG’s 153rd AW and North Carolina’s ANG’s 145th AW.
MAFFS-equipped aircraft and crews from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing, the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing, and the North Carolina Air National Guard’s 145th Airlift Wing have been flying the aerial containment missions for the last three weeks. On Thursday, the 145th AW aircraft and crews were released from duty. Personnel and two C-130s from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd AW will remain at Kirtland AFB, N.M. available to support U.S. Forest Service fire containment efforts.
MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system, which can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, drawing lines of containment that can cover 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.
The MAFFS units are owned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture 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, Idaho. The Department of Defense is flying at the request of NIFC.