Video featuring annual training for MAFFS personnel

MAFFS retardant drop
Screengrab from the video below of a MAFFS retardant drop.

About 300 aviation personnel from the Air National Guard, U.S. Forest Service, and other firefighting agencies are participating this week in aerial wildland firefighting training and certification for Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) personnel at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The MAFFS units, which can be slipped into a military C-130, are capable of dropping up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant or water on a wildland fire.

This video produced May 9, 2019 includes footage from this weeks’ training plus shots from previous fire seasons.


Video by Tech. Sgt. Garrett Wake, 152nd Airlift Wing, Nevada Air National Guard.

MAFFS training being conducted this week in Colorado Springs

MAFFS
Air National Guardsmen with the 152nd Airlift Wing from Reno, Nevada drop water during the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System training and recertification week in Colorado, May 6, 2019. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amber Sorsek.

About 300 aviation personnel from the Air National Guard, U.S. Forest Service, and other firefighting agencies are participating this week in aerial wildland firefighting training and certification for Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) personnel. It is hosted by the Air Force Reserve’s 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

“We are eager to join with our civilian and military partners this week and prepare for another challenging wildfire season,” said Col. James DeVere, 302nd Airlift Wing commander. “Training together is vital. We are able to battle wildfires as one seamless interagency team working with the U.S. Forest Service because of the training we do together.”

Training drops will be executed in nearby forests west of Colorado Springs using potable water. Rural residents in those areas may see low-flying C-130 aircraft and U.S. Forest Service lead planes throughout the week.

The 302nd Airlift Wing’s C-130 Hercules aircraft are equipped with the U.S. Forest Service’s MAFFS, which is capable of dropping up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant or water in less than 10 seconds along a quarter-mile line. The system slides into the back of the military aircraft, and retardant is released through a nozzle on the left side through a modified paratroop door. MAFFS aircraft can be activated to supplement the U.S. Forest Service and the civilian air tanker program to slow the spread of wildland fires across the nation.

MAFFS
A U.S Forest Service lead plane releases smoke to signal where the Air National Guardsmen with the 152nd Airlift Wing from Reno, Nevada, will drop water during the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System training and recertification in Colorado, May 6, 2019. U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Amber Sorsek.

The three Air National Guard wings tasked conducting MAFFS missioned include: the 146th Airlift Wing from Channel Islands, California, 152nd Airlift Wing from Reno, Nevada, and the 153rd Airlift Wing from Cheyenne, Wyoming. The 302nd Airlift Wing is the only Air Force Reserve unit executing the MAFFS mission. Each of the four wings usually have two slip-in MAFFS units in order to mobilize two firefighting C-130s along with a third C-130 hauling equipment and additional personnel.

The certification training, sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service, includes classroom sessions, flying and ground operations for Air Force aircrews, civilian lead plane pilots, and support personnel from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and other state and federal firefighting agencies.

“Wildland fire management agencies have relied on MAFFS for 46 years to provide a surge capacity when commercial air tankers are fully committed or not readily available, as they frequently are during periods of high wildfire activity,” said Kim Christensen, deputy assistant director for operations for the U.S. Forest Service. “Training that includes all of the military and civilian personnel that work together when MAFFS are mobilized is critical to ensure that military aircraft fly safely and effectively and that they can be seamlessly integrated into wildfire suppression operations.”

Video of MAFFS C-130 dropping on Carr Fire

The California Air National Guard shot this video of one of their Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) C-130’s dropping retardant on the Carr Fire in Northern California July 31, 2018.

If you look closely you’ll see the lead plane produce smoke to mark the beginning of the drop.

MAFFS at work

Above: Screenshot from the National Guard video below.

Two Air National Guard C-130’s have been working on wildfires in California for several weeks. They are temporarily outfitted with Modular Airborne FireFighting Systems (MAFFS) that can hold up to 3,000 gallons of fire retandant.

I believe this video was shot from MAFFS6 showing Coast Guard/USFS Tanker 118, an HC-130H, dropping on the River Fire east of Ukiah, California.  T-118, which is painted white, is borrowing one of the eight MAFFS systems purchased by the Forest Service that are normally reserved for military planes if they are needed to provide a surge capacity when additional air tankers are needed.

Two additional MAFFS air tankers activated

Two more C-130 Modular Airborne FireFighting Systems (MAFFS) have been activated, joining the two that were mobilized July 2.

These aircraft are coming from the Air National Guard bases at Cheyenne and Reno. The first two were from the Air Force Reserve base in Colorado Springs.

For now they are based at Colorado Springs where a temporary retardant base has been installed.

The concept behind the MAFFS is to have surge capacity. The units can be activated when ongoing wildfires reduce the ability of the 13 large air tankers on federal exclusive use contracts, or the 11 on call when needed contracts, to respond to new initial attack and extended attack fires.

Governors have the authority to activate their National Guard MAFFS as needed. The National Interagency Fire Center can also activate them.

The U.S. Forest Service owns eight of the MAAFS systems that can be slipped inside a military C-130 in a matter of hours. One of them is being used in a Coast Guard C-130 that one day may or may not be transferred to the USFS to be converted into an air tanker with a permanent retardant system. The Administration has expressed a desire to kill the program that would have transferred seven Coast Guard HC-130H’s to the USFS to help rebuild the atrophied fleet of large air tankers.

MAFFS C-130
A MAFFS unit installed inside a C-130. Boise, ID April 20, 2018(

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Bean.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Two MAFFS aircraft activated

MAFFS activatedToday two C-130 MAFFS aircraft from the Air Force Reserve base in Colorado, the 302nd Airlift Wing, were activated after receiving a request from the National Interagency Fire Center. Sorties by MAFFS 2 and MAFFS 5 started today on the Spring Creek Fire in south-central Colorado.

The Modular Airborne FireFighting Systems (MAFFS) that convert a military aircraft into an air tanker can be installed in a C-130 in a matter of hours. The units hold up to 3,000 gallons of water or retardant that is forced out of the tanks by compressed air.

The MAFFS program consists of eight units located at four military bases in the western United States — Channel Islands, Cheyenne, Colorado Springs, and Reno. All are Air National Guard bases except for the Air Force Reserve Wing at Colorado Springs. Each base has two of systems except for the new kid on the block, Reno — one of their two MAFFS is being used by a C-130 that was originally expected to be transferred from the Coast Guard to the U.S. Forest Service.

The concept behind the MAFFS is to have surge capacity. The units can be activated when ongoing wildfires reduce the ability of the 13 large air tankers on federal exclusive use contracts, or the 11 on call when needed contract, to respond to new initial attack and extended attack fires.

Governors have the authority to activate their National Guard MAFFS as needed. The National Interagency Fire Center can also activate them.

MAFFS
MAFFS 8 and 9 at annual training in Cheyenne in 2014. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

 

Excellent video about the MAFFS mission

Above: Screenshot from the video.

This is the best description I have seen of the Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) — the crews, aircraft, retardant delivery system, and the mission. The 3,000-gallon tank can be installed in a military C-130 in a few hours when additional air tanker surge capacity is needed for assisting wildland firefighters.

In 2017 there were 20 large air tankers on exclusive use contracts. This year there are 13, so we might be seeing more military aircraft fighting wildfires in 2018. In 2002 there were 44 on contract.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Nigel.
Typos or errors, report them HERE.

Photos from the MAFFS training

The annual training was held this week at Sacramento McClellan Airport

The annual training and recertification for the Modular Airborne FireFighting System (MAFFS) C-130 crews has wrapped up. Held at Sacramento McClellan Airport this year, it was attended by all four of the airlift wings that operate the systems: three Air National Guard units from California, Nevada and Wyoming, and one U.S. Air Force Reserve unit from Colorado.

All of these photos were taken by Bob Martinez. Thanks Bob! You can see more of his work at SmugMug.

MAFFS aircraft air tanker military

MAFFS aircraft air tanker military

MAFFS aircraft air tanker military

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