MAFFS aircraft support Colorado wildland fire fighting efforts

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | June 25, 2012

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Two Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped aircraft from the 153rd Airlift Wing of the Wyoming Air National Guard arrived at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., today to support wildland fire fighting efforts in the state of Colorado.

The C-130s will join two more MAFFS-equipped aircraft from the 302nd Airlift Wing based at Peterson AFB to support the U.S. Forest Service in combating wildfires burning throughout the state. The U.S. Forest Service has requested and U.S. Northern Command has approved the deployment and employment of four MAFFS C-130 aircraft to assist in wildfire suppression in Colorado and elsewhere in the Rocky Mountain and Southwest regions, which constitutes half of the military’s MAFFS fleet.

"Since they've started, we have been monitoring the fires and have had our aircrews, aircraft and the MAFFS systems in a state of readiness anticipating a possible tasking from the U.S. Forest Service," said Air Force Lt. Col. Luke Thompson, 302nd Airlift Wing chief of aerial firefighting. "As soon as we received the formal request, the wing's aerial porters and C-130 loadmasters loaded the U.S. Forest Service MAFFS units. In addition, MAFFS-qualified aircrews are on standby.”

The firefighting systems located inside the aircraft are owned by the U.S. Forest Service, one of several federal and state government agencies and organizations with roles and responsibilities in wildland fire suppression that comprise the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. The MAFFS provide a "surge" capability that is used to boost wildfire suppression efforts when commercial airtankers are fully committed or not readily available.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five 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.

“I know that the professionals who fly these airplanes are going to bring a lot of capabilities to the incident commander here on-scene and throughout the entire region where these fires rage,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Kenn Todorov, Deputy Director of USNORTHCOM’s Operations Directorate. Here at United States Northern Command, it’s our number one goal to take care of our citizens in their greatest times of need. Certainly these fires have ravaged through our homeland, in particular the area here where we live and work, so we're all very anxious and proud and ready to get started in support of our federal partners against these fires.”

MAFFS operations began today and will continue to support the USFS as long as requested.