July 7, 2008 —
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Aircraft of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group began their twelfth day of aerial firefighting support missions July 7 in a coordinated effort to control wildfires in California.
Yesterday, the 302nd AEG military airborne assets performed a total of 69 air drops delivering more than 100,300 gallons of fire retardant and water. To date, 302nd AEG has performed a total of 746 air drops and have delivered close to 850,000 gallons of fire retardant and water since June 26.
C-130 fire fighting sorties covered the following fires: 16 sorties were flown to the Basin fire within the Los Padres National Forest located five miles southeast of Big Sur, delivering approximately 44,800 gallons of fire retardant and 11 sorties to the Piute fire located in the located in the Sequoia National Forest fire delivering more than 30,800 gallons of retardant.
Marine Corps CH-46E and Navy helicopters performed a total of 42 air drops on the Basin Complex fire, delivering approximately 24,700 gallons of water.
The C-130 aircraft covering the fires in Southern California reloaded fire retardant and refueled at Channel Islands Air National Guard Station in order to save time traveling to the wildfires in Southern California. 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 aircraft units include three Air National Guard units – 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.
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.
Three Marine helicopter units – Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron (HMMT) 164, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 268 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, CAL FIRE, and the National Interagency Fire Center.
NORTHCOM 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 3:00 p.m. July 7.