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News | June 28, 2021

DoD C-130 aircraft mobilize to support wildland firefighting efforts

By Air Forces Northern Public Affairs

Two U.S. Air Force C-130 aircraft equipped with Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) began wildland firefighting operations in support of the National Interagency Fire Center over the Lava Fire in northern California Saturday, and have dropped nearly 20,000 gallons of fire retardant to date.

As the Joint Force Air Component Command for U.S. Northern Command, First Air Force at Tyndall AFB, FL, is tasked with coordinating DoD air assets for support of civil authorities.

“We take to heart our team's effort to help protect property and critical infrastructure, with the ultimate goal of saving lives,” said Lt. Gen. Kirk Pierce, commander, First Air Force (Air Forces Northern). "Our MAFFS-trained team of professionals completed rigorous annual aerial wildland firefighting training in May with the USDA Forest Service to ensure they were fully prepared for the wildfire season."

California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing and the Nevada Air National Guard's 152nd Airlift Wing are each providing one aircraft in support of the mission.  NIFC requested DoD aerial wildland fire fighting support a month earlier than requested in 2020, and it is the first June activation since 2012.

The MAFFS aircraft can drop up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant in less than 10 seconds across a quarter-mile line. The system slides into the back of the military aircraft, and retardant is released through a nozzle on the rear left side.

In addition to the 146th and 152nd Airlift Wings, MAFFS equipped aircraft are from the Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson AFB, Colo., and the Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing, Cheyenne, Wyo.

First Air Force also deployed the 153rd Air Expeditionary Group to the operational home of NIFC in Boise, Idaho.  This deployment best ensures that DoD efforts are closely linked with the federal wildland firefighting lead. 

NIFC is the nation's support center for wildland firefighting. Eight different agencies and organizations are part of NIFC, including the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Weather Service, U.S. Fire Administration, National Association of State Foresters, and state emergency response agencies.

For photos and videos of the MAFFS program, visit: www.dvidshub.net/feature/MAFFSAEG

For more information on Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/fire/planes/maffs