The Nevada Air National Guard’s participation in the wildland firefighting mission in the West has been extended to Aug. 26 at the request of the National Interagency Fire Center.
Two additional C-130 aircraft and aircrew were added to the mission – one from the Wyoming Air National Guard and the other from the Air Force Reserve in Colorado – for a total of five military C-130 aircraft activated.
“The request for additional support shows just how challenging this fire season is and how critical our MAFFS aircraft, aircrews and maintenance personnel are to supporting NIFC,” said Col. Jeremy Ford, 152nd Airlift Wing commander. “These Airmen are dedicated to fighting these wildfires in order to protect and save lives and property of communities from the local area to multiple regional states.”
The Air Force C-130 aircraft assigned to units in California, Colorado, Nevada and Wyoming are capable of dropping fire retardant using U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Fire Fighting (MAFFS) equipped aircraft. Aircrews, maintenance crews and support personnel undergo special NIFC training and certification to perform these missions each year.
The 152nd Airlift Wing has two aircraft assisting and the California Air National Guard has one.
Since activating June 26, the Reno unit amassed 141 sorties, dropping 388,766 gallons totaling over 3.4 million pounds of retardant on fires throughout the West. The California Air National Guard’s planes have flown 64 sorties, dispensing 170,322 gallons or nearly 1.5 million pounds of retardant. Both units have helped fight 11 fires in Northern California.
All MAFFS units are requested by the commander of U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) to support the NIFC in wildland firefighting operations in the United States. First Air Force (Air Forces Northern), USNORTHCOM’s Air Component Command, is the Department of Defense’s operational lead for the aerial military efforts.
Initially, support was requested from June 26 through July 26, more than a month earlier than last year’s firefighting season. The 152nd Airlift Wing supported NIFC July 29 through Oct. 3, 2020, the longest firefighting activation in the unit’s history.
The C-130s are operating from CAL FIRE’s Air Tanker Reload Base in Sacramento, California. From there, they assist federal and private firefighting assets around the region as needed.
As of July 20, the NIFC reports that 83 large fires have burned 1,293,636 acres across 13 states. More than 19,300 wildland firefighters and support personnel are assigned to the fires.
MAFFS is a joint program of the U.S. Forest Service and DOD. The Forest Service owns the MAFFS equipment and supplies the fire retardant, while the DOD provides the C-130 H and J model aircraft, flight crews, and maintenance and support personnel to fly the missions.