Military C-130s equipped with the U.S. Forest Service’s Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems have moved staging operations from Cheyenne, Wyo. and Colorado Springs, Colo., to Boise, Idaho, and Salt Lake City.
Four of the aircraft, from the 153rd and 302nd Airlift wings are operating from Boise Air Terminal, in Idaho. Two from the 146th Airlift Wing are operating from Hill Air Force Base, near Salt Lake City.
The U.S. Forest Service requested MAFFS operations relocate to reduce response time for fire fighting, said Col. Jerry Champlin, 153rd Air Expeditionary Group commander. “With all the recent rain in the Rocky Mountains, they just don’t need us down there right now.”
The MAFFS crews performed 16 drops July 10 on various fires in Idaho.
Since being activated June 25, the MAFFS fleet has completed 163 drops of 423,931 gallons on 10 Rocky Mountain area fires.
MAFFS are operated by four military units: The 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard; 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard; 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard; and the 302nd Airlift Wing, U.S. Air Force Reserve Command.
Four airmen assigned to the 145th AW died July 1 during a MAFFS mission assisting with firefighting efforts on the White Draw fire, in S.D. The incident currently is under investigation.
MAFFS is a joint DOD and U.S. Forest Service program designed to provide additional aerial firefighting resources when commercial and private airtankers are no longer able to meet the needs of the forest service.
MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the U.S. Forest Service that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than 5 seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.