BOISE, Idaho – The U.S. Forest Service, through the National
Interagency Fire Center here, has decided to end current military C-130 Modular
Airborne Fire Fighting System operations as of the end of the day on Thursday,
Sept. 5, 2013.
MAFFS aircraft and crews remain available for recall if the
wildland fire situation dictates.
In a notice to the Department of Defense issued yesterday,
the Forest Service said wildland fire activity had begun to moderate, and that,
along with the increased availability of civilian air tankers, has allowed the
release of the military aircraft, their crews and ground support personnel.
Two MAFFS C-130s, both from the 145th Airlift Wing, North
Carolina Air National Guard, had remained on duty at McClellan Air Tanker Base
outside of Sacramento, Calif., following the release of three others by the
Forest Service yesterday evening. Those
aircraft, one from the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard, based in
Cheyenne, Wyo., is slated to fly home from McClellan today. The other two, both from the 146th Airlift
Wing, California Air National Guard, will stand down at their home airfield at
Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Port Hueneme, Calif., where they
had operated in recent days.
Since the year’s initial activation on June 11, MAFFS crews
have flown 572 missions and made 535 drops utilizing 1,375,981 gallons of
Phos-Chek fire retardant. This summer,
they have fought fires in Idaho, Oregon, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona,
California and Nevada.
MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned
by the USFS. MAFFS modules are loaded
into the cargo bays of military C-130 aircraft.
Following USFS lead planes, military aircrews can discharge 3,000
gallons of water or fire retardant from the MAFFS modules along the leading
edge of a forest fire in less than five seconds and cover an area a quarter of
a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the
load is discharged, ground crews at a MAFFS tanker base can refill the modules
in less than 12 minutes.
An interagency DoD and USFS program, MAFFS provides aerial
firefighting resources when commercial and private air tankers are no longer
able to meet the needs of the Forest Service.
The military AEG exercises control over MAFFS resources at the direction
of the USFS.
Four C-130 Wings perform the MAFFS mission, each providing
two MAFFS-capable aircraft and the air and ground crews needed to operate
them. They are the 145th Airlift Wing,
North Carolina Air National Guard; 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National
Guard; 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard; and the 302nd Airlift
Wing, Air Force Reserve Command, in Colorado.
U.S. Northern Command is the joint combatant command formed
in the wake of the Sept.11, 2001, terrorist attacks to provide homeland defense
and defense support of civil authorities. USNORTHCOM provides DoD capabilities
for disaster response operations in support of the Department of Homeland
Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Interagency Fire
Center, and state and local officials.