Last weekend members of the Air Force Reserve’s 302nd Airlift Wing from Colorado Springs with Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing out of Cheyenne began a weeklong aerial wildland firefighting training and certification session hosted at the air tanker base at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (Jeffco) near Denver, Colorado. Two C-130s from Colorado Springs and one from Cheyenne were on hand.
The C-130 Hercules aircraft can be equipped with the U.S. Forest Service’s Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS), which can drop up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant. The system slides into the back of the military aircraft and retardant is sprayed under pressure through a nozzle in the troop door on the left side. MAFFS aircraft can be activated to supplement the civilian airtanker program to slow the spread of wildland fires.
The training was originally scheduled to take place in Boise at the end of April, but that was cancelled because of COVID-19. There may be another MAFFS training event in a month or so out west for the crews from Reno and southern California.
The video shows one of the Modular Airborne FireFighting Systems (MAFFS) C-130 air tankers from Peterson Air Force Base dropping on the Black Forest Fire near Colorado Springs June 12. The actual drop (spray?) begins at about the two-minute mark.
Two of the four military units that provide military C-130 aircraft configured to serve as air tankers are conducting their annual training, certification, and recertification. Peterson Air Force base in Colorado Springs had their’s April 19-23 and Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne has chosen the week of May 5. The military Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) can help fill a need for a surge capacity when all of the privately owned contract air tankers are committed.
The 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson is the only Air Force Reserve organization that has an aerial fire fighting mission. The wing’s MAFFS program added one pilot, two navigators, two flight engineers and four loadmasters to the aerial fire fighting roster this year. Reserve aircrew members who support the MAFFS mission are volunteers, with each working to incorporate aerial fire fighting training into their required airdrop and tactical flying skill sets.