Colorado AF Reservists join aerial firefighting efforts in Southwestern U.S.

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | June 27, 2011

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Two Air Force Reserve Modular Airborne Firefighting System equipped C-130 Hercules along with approximately 26 MAFFS certified Air Force Reserve aircrews and support personnel will leave here Tuesday, June 28 to support the aerial firefighting efforts for the ongoing wildland fires in the Southwestern U.S. The MAFFS certified Reservists are expected to fly fire containment missions from Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico to aid in suppressing the wildland fires that have been burning since late May.

This deployment continues what has been a busy firefighting season for the Reserve Wing. The Colorado Reservists have been called on a regular basis since April and supported aerial firefighting efforts for fires in Mexico and Texas. As of June 23 MAFFS-equipped C-130s have performed 34 airdrops dropping 81,298 gallons of fire retardant to help contain the wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico. The AF Reservists are expected to begin flying aerial suppression missions on Wednesday. The 302nd Airlift Wing’s aircraft and crews will replace two C-130s and aircrews from California’s 146th Airlift Wing that are scheduled to return to their home base.

While deployed to Kirtland AFB, the 302nd AW MAFFS will become part of the combined force of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group comprised of the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd AW from Colorado, the Air National Guard’s 146th AW from California, the 145th AW from North Carolina and the 153rd AW from Wyoming. U.S. Northern Command, through its Air Force Component Command, Air Forces Northern, deployed the 302nd AEG to serve as the lead DoD effort supporting the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. The Department of Defense is flying at the request of NIFC.

The MAFFS units are owned by the USDA 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. 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 60 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.

To cover the departure or for more information, media can contact the 302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs office at (719) 556-4117.