CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Increased fire activity in the Western United States has prompted the U.S. Forest Service to call in two additional C-130 Hercules aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System to resume operations by Tuesday. Those aircraft will come from the Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing, in Cheyenne, Wyo.
"This has been an interesting fire season for us. Our operations have waxed and waned since we were activated June 25," said Air Force Col. Jerry Champlin, 153rd Air Expeditionary Group commander. "Our aircraft are heavily engaged and having two additional MAFFS will definitely help."
Under the modified request for assistance received Saturday, the 153rd Airlift Wing's two C-130s will join the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing's C-130s operating from Boise Air Terminal, in Idaho. One C-130 from the California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing and one from the North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing will operate from McClellan Air Tanker Base, in Sacramento, Calif.
Since being activated June 25, the MAFFS fleet has released more than 1.4 million gallons of fire retardant during 624 drops on fires in nine states in the Rocky Mountain area. The 302nd Airlift Wing dropped the millionth gallon on Aug. 5. This year's MAFFS operations have dropped more gallons of fire retardant this year than they have in the last nine fire seasons.
MAFFS is a joint Department of Defense and U.S. Forest Service program designed to provide additional aerial firefighting resources when commercial and private airtankers are no longer able to meet the needs of the forest service.
MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the U.S. Forest Service that 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.