AFNORTH responds to Texas wildfires

By Lt. Col. Susan A. Romano | AFNORTH Public Affairs | April 17, 2011

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Under the direction of the Joint Forces Air Component Commander for Air Forces Northern here, four C-130 Hercules aircraft equipped with fire fighting capabilities will deploy to respond to the wildfires that are plaguing South Texas.

The C-130s will base their operations at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas. Two of the four aircraft are from California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing; the third is from the 153rd AW in Wyoming; the fourth is from the 145th AW in North Carolina. All are expected to arrive between now and Monday to begin firefighting operations.

The Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, or MAFFS, is a self-contained aerial firefighting system, which 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 help alleviate the spread of fires that are impacting South Texas, two additional MAFFS that are currently flying missions from Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, Texas to Coahuila, Mexico, are also releasing retardant in Texas until the four relief C-130s arrive in Abilene.

The MAFFS is 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 (NIFC) 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 AFNORTH Public Affairs at (850) 283-8080, (850) 624-4293, or via email at AFNORTH.PA@tyndall.af.mil.