Charlotte-based airmen to deploy to Arizona to fight wildfires - | WBTV Charlotte

Charlotte-based airmen to deploy to Arizona to fight wildfires


Airmen with the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard based in Charlotte will deploy to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Ariz. on Sunday at the request of the U.S. Forest Service to provide Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System equipped C130s to fight wildland fires in the Arizona and surrounding southwestern region of the United States. 

USFS directs the use of MAFFS resources when employed anywhere in the country. 

MAFFS operations had been based at Peterson since beginning June 11 and relocated operation to Arizona Wednesday, July 3, 2013. 

To date, MAFFS aircraft have made 72 drops on fires in Arizona and Colorado discharging 196,505 gallons of fire retardant.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the USFS.  MAFFS modules are loaded into the cargo bays of military C-130 aircraft. 

Following USFS lead planes, military aircrews can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant from the MAFFS modules along the leading edge of a forest fire in less than five seconds and cover an area a quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide.  Once the load is discharged, ground crews at a MAFFS tanker base can refill the modules in less than 12 minutes.

An interagency DoD and USFS program, MAFFS provides aerial firefighting resources when commercial and private air tankers are no longer able to meet the needs of the Forest Service.  The military AEG exercises control over MAFFS resources at the direction of the USFS.

Four C-130 Wings perform the MAFFS mission, each providing two MAFFS-capable aircraft and the air and ground crews needed to operate them. 

They are the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard; 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard; 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard; and the 302nd Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve Command, in Colorado. 

The Colorado and California-based units are currently activated.

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