Airmen continue aerial firefight in Southwest

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs | June 24, 2011

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. - Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel and MAFFS (Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System) equipped C-130s continue to assist the U.S. Forest Service in fighting wildfires in New Mexico and Arizona.

Since being activated by the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho on June 15, the 302 Air Expeditionary Group has performed 38 airdrops, dropping 92,048 gallons of fire retardant to help contain wildfires in the Southwest.

Under the direction of the Joint Forces Air Component Commander for Air Forces Northern, four C-130 Hercules aircraft equipped with fire fighting capabilities deployed here as part of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group. Command and control of the aircraft is being provided by the 302 AEG from Boise, Idaho.

"The firefighting mission of the C-130 is just one more effective use of Air Force airpower that has both immediate and direct benefits to the people of New Mexico and Arizona,” said Col. Jay Pittman, 302nd AEG commander. "The men and women of the 302nd AEG are proud to serve and will continue to support as requested." The 302nd AEG is comprised of personnel from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing, Colo., the California Air National Guard's 146th AW, Wyoming ANG's 153rd AW and North Carolina's ANG's 145th AW. The 145th and 146th Airlift Wings are currently supplying the four MAFFS equipped C-130s.

According to the National Interagency Fire Center’s website, “A total of 48 large fires have burned more than 1.4 million acres nationally. The majority of these fires remain active in the Southwest and South.” The Air Reserve Component MAFFS, so far, have been requested to support the Wallow and Wash fires in Arizona and the Pacheco and Track fires in New Mexico. Visit http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm for fire containment information.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system, which can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, drawing lines of containment that can cover an area one-quarter of a mile long by 60 feet wide. Once the load is discharged,the MAFFS system can be refilled in less than 12 minutes. The MAFFS units are owned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, one of several federal and state government agencies and organizations with roles and responsibilities in wildland fire suppression that make up the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. The Department of Defense is flying at the request of NIFC. AFNORTH is the air component for U.S. Northern Command and when tasked, provides support to local, state, tribal, regional and federal emergency service agencies. For more information, contact the 302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs at (719) 556-4117.