302nd AEG conducts its fifteenth day of California wild fire support

By Staff Sergeant Luke Johnson | 302nd Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs | July 10, 2008

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Aircraft of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group began their fifteenth day of aerial firefighting support missions July 10 in a coordinated effort to control wildfires in California.

Yesterday, the 302nd AEG military airborne assets performed a total of 38 air drops delivering more than 67,802 gallons of fire retardant and water. To date, 302nd AEG has performed a total of 900 air drops and have delivered close to 1,128,000 gallons of fire retardant and water since June 26.

C-130 firefighting sorties covered the following fires: eight sorties were flown to the Basin fire within the Los Padres National Forest located five miles southeast of Big Sur, delivering approximately 22,400 gallons of fire retardant and 15 sorties to the Piute fire located in the Sequoia National Forest, delivering 42,000 gallons of retardant.

Marine Corps CH-46E helicopters performed a total of 15 air drops, delivering more than 3,400 gallons of water on the North Mountain fire within the Stanislaus National Forest located 15 miles northeast of Groveland, Calif.
The C-130 aircraft covering fires in Southern California reloaded fire retardant and refueled at Channel Islands Air National Guard Station to save time traveling to and from the drop sites, delivering twice the retardant in half the time. The aircraft then returned to McClellan airfield at the end of the flying day for maintenance and the next day’s launch.

The 302nd AEG is made up of eight U.S. Air Force MAFFS-capable C-130 aircraft operating out of McClellan Airfield, Calif. and Navy Reserve and Marine Corps helicopters operating out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif. 

The 302nd AEG C-130 aircraft units include three Air National Guard units – the 145th Airlift Wing from Charlotte, N.C., the 146th Airlift Wing from Channel Islands, Calif., and the 153rd Airlift Wing from Cheyenne, Wyo., and one Air Force Reserve unit -- the 302nd Airlift Wing from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

Three Marine helicopter units – Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron (HMMT)   164 and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 268, both based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 465 based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego – fly CH-46E Sea Knight and CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters equipped with specialized fire fighting buckets.

U.S. Navy Reserve helicopters flying at NAS Lemoore are assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Support Squadron (HSC) 85 based out of Naval Air Station North Island, Calif.  The squadron is flying MH-60S helicopters with 420- and 360-gallon specialized fire fighting buckets. 

The 302nd AEG provides unique capabilities and is part of a unified military support effort of U.S. Northern Command to provide assistance to the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and the National Interagency Fire Center.

USNORTHCOM continues to closely monitor the California wildfires to anticipate additional requests for Department of Defense assistance to local, federal, and state civil authorities and will launch as many missions as officials require to battle the wildfires.

Fire information is current as of 10:00 a.m. July 10.