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Third U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft joins DoD efforts for wildland fire fighting

MAFFS Photo 2020

Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped C-130 planes, MAFFS 2, assigned to 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado and MAFFS 8, assigned to 152nd Airlift Wing, Reno, Nev., are mission-ready at McClellan Airbase, Sacramento, CA July 31, 2020. The MAFFS units were activated to support wildfire suppression efforts in California.

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

A third U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft joined the Department of Defense’s efforts for wildland fire fighting in Western states, as requested by the USDA Forest Service. The air tanker arrived at McClellan Airbase in Sacramento, Calif., July 5 and made three of the 13 retardant drops for the day.

“It’s an honor to do this mission--we take it to heart,” said Capt. Jennifer Kanakis, MAFFS mission commander, Expeditionary Aerospace Squadron. “We’re responding with urgency to help suppress the fires.”

The C-130H, designated MAFFS 8, from the Nevada Air National Guard’s (ANG) 152nd Airlift Wing in Reno, is operating out of McClellan with the other MAFFS aircraft to fire locations in need as determined by the National Interagency Fire Center, headquartered in Boise, Idaho.

MAFFS stands for Modular Airborne Firefighting System and is essentially a storage tank loaded inside the C-130 so it can drop up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant through the rear aircraft nozzle in less than 10 seconds across a quarter-mile line. The MAFFS’s belong to the Forest Service while the aircraft are Air Force owned.

The crew of MAFFS 8 joined another crew from Nevada, flying MAFFS 9, and a crew from the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing, Port Hueneme, who are flying the C130J air tanker, MAFFS 6. The crews from MAFFS 6 and MAFFS 9, were swapped out June 30 with the current crews to maintain crew rest/work cycles. All Air Force MAFFS teams are managed by First Air Force (Air Forces Northern)’s 153rd Air Expeditionary Group.

“We empathize with those evacuating and others affected by the fires and have highly-trained Airmen giving it their best effort,” said Col. Gary Monroe, commander, 153 AEG. “To date, we’ve made fifty-two drops on five fires with more than one hundred and forty-two thousand gallons of retardant.”

The five fires in Northern California include: the Salt Fire, north of Redding; the Lava Fire, on the outer slope of Mount Shasta; the Dotta Fire, north of Portola; and the two fires being suppressed by yesterday's efforts—the Tangle Fire, north of Tangle Blue Lake in Trinity County; and the Juniper Fire in far Northeast California.  To learn about the fires the MAFFS teams are assisting with, go to https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

First Air Force (Air Forces Northern), U.S. Northern Command’s Air Component Command, is the DoD’s operational lead for the aerial military efforts.  USNORTHCOM’s priorities are homeland defense, mission assurance, force protection and Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA), the latter of which includes wildland firefighting.

NIFC is the nation’s support center for wildland fire fighting. Eight different agencies and organizations are part of NIFC including the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife-Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Weather Service, U.S. Fire Administration, and the National Association of State Foresters.  

For photos and videos of the MAFFS program, visit: www.dvidshub.net/feature/MAFFSAEG. For more information on Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/fire/planes/maffs