Two C-130 Hercules from the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing were deactivated Sept. 2, and returned to Cheyenne, Wyo., from Boise, Idaho.
Four other Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System units remain activated. The Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing out of Colorado Springs, Colo., has two C-130s operating out of Boise. The North Carolina and California Air National Guard each have one C-130 operating out of McClellan Air Tanker Base in Sacramento, Calif.
Leaders of the 153rd Air Expeditionary Group based in Boise said this season has become the second-highest in MAFFS history for gallons of fire retardant dropped, surpassed only by 1994, when about 5 million gallons were dropped. So far this season, through Aug. 27, the MAFFS fleet had released more than 2,277,971 gallons of fire retardant during 950 drops on fires in 10 states.
MAFFS is a joint Defense Department and U.S. Forest Service program designed to provide additional aerial firefighting resources when commercial and private air tankers are no longer able to meet the Forest Service’s needs.
The U.S. Forest Service’s MAFFS-equipped C-130s are operated by four military units: the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing, the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing, the North Carolina Air National Guard’s 145th Airlift Wing, and Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing.
This is the first year since 2008 that all four MAFFS wings have been activated simultaneously, officials said.
A self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the Forest Service, MAFFS can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five 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.