Military activates two MAFFS air tankers to join fire fight

MAFFS training, Boise, April 21, 2017
MAFFS training, Boise, April 21, 2017. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) has requested two Department of Defense C-130 aircraft equipped with Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) to support wildland firefighting operations in support of NIFC in the northwestern United States. One C-130H from the Nevada Air National Guard’s 152nd Airlift Wing, Reno, Nev., and one C-130J from the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing, Port Hueneme, Calif., will arrive at Boise Airport in Idaho today. The aircraft are standing by for flying on behalf of a DoD-approved US Forest Service Request.

“We greatly appreciate the assistance of our military partners,” said Kim Christensen, deputy assistant director for operations for the US Forest Service. “These aircraft will help provide additional capacity for aerial firefighting.”

Having military C-130s that can be converted into air tankers provides a critical “surge” capability that can be used to bolster wildfire suppression efforts when commercial air tankers are stretched thin or an inadequate number remain available for initial attack.

Nationally there are 35 large uncontained wildfires being managed by 26 Type 1 or 2 incident management teams. As of Friday morning 156 helicopters are committed to fires along with more than 17,000 personnel. The number of contracted large air tankers activated was 23, plus 6 water scooping air tankers, before the 2 MAFFS came on board.

inside of a MAFFS air tanker retardant tank
Looking at the inside of a MAFFS air tanker, the retardant tank and one of the compressed air tanks. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

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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.

One thought on “Military activates two MAFFS air tankers to join fire fight”

  1. Thank you for the statics on the National scale. We can get local incident information but rarely a National overview. Great work and your photos that map the various wildfires are so helpful.


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