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The National Interagency Fire Center modified its request for assistance decreasing the total number of Department of Defense MAFFS C-130s supporting U.S. Forest Service operations in the Western U.S. from four to two.
Two MAFFS-equipped C-130s and aircrews from the Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing returned to Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado on Friday, September 7, and will remain on standby.
Currently, the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard, and the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, each have one C-130 operating out of McClellan Air Tanker Base, in Sacramento, California.
On August 2, two C-130s from the Wyoming ANG's 153rd Airlift Wing were released from MAFFS operations in Boise, Idaho.
"The rotation and changes in numbers of MAFFS C-130 wings supporting the U.S. Forest Service is routine. Both the Wyoming and Colorado MAFFS C-130s will remain on standby should a rotational change or increase in support be needed," said Col. Jerry Champlin, 153rd Air Expeditionary Group commander.
According to MAFFS' 153rd Air Expeditionary Group leadership based in Boise, Idaho, this season has become the second highest in MAFFS history for gallons dropped surpassed only by the MAFFS season in 1994, when approximately 5 million gallons were dropped. So far this season, through September 10, the MAFFS fleet has released more than 2.4 million gallons of fire retardant during 1,003 drops on fires in 10 states.
MAFFS is a joint DOD 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 needs of the forest service.
The U.S. Forest MAFFS-equipped C-130s 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.
This is the first year since 2008 that all four MAFFS wings had been activated simultaneously.
As a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the U.S. Forest Service, MAFFS 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.