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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -
The U.S. Forest Service has deactivated the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped military C-130s due to favorable fire conditions in the West.
The 153rd Air Expeditionary Group received the new Request for Assistance late Sept. 14, releasing the two MAFFS planes and crews that were still operating, as well as support and maintenance staff. All crews have reported back to their home stations.
The Charlotte-based 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard, and the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, each had one C-130 operating from McClellan Air Tanker Base near Sacramento, Calif., for the last several weeks. North Carolina's aircraft and crew members returned to Charlotte on Saturday.
On Sept. 2, two C-130s from the Wyoming ANG's 153rd Airlift Wing were released from MAFFS operations in Boise, Idaho. The two C-130s from the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing, were released from duty Sept. 7.
"Although our planes and crews have returned home, we all know MAFFS can still be reactivated well into the fall," said Lt. Col. Donald Taylor, 153rd Air Expeditionary Group acting commander. "We have had a very busy season and know it's still too early to say the season is over for good."
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 of 1994 when approximately 5 million gallons were dropped. This season, through Sept. 14, the MAFFS fleet released close to 2.5 million gallons of fire retardant during 1,011 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.