N.C. Air National Guard to California to Fight Fires

BOISE, Idaho

The U.S. Forest Service, through the National Interagency Fire Center here, has ordered the three MAFFS aircraft operating at the Boise Air Tanker Base moved to McClellan Air Tanker base near Sacramento, Calif., effective today in order to better meet wildland fire-fighting needs in the Western United States. In the request made yesterday, USFS also extended the military Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System mission through Sept. 30.

Currently, five MAFFS aircraft are activated. Two are from the 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, stationed at the Channel Islands Air National Guard Station at Port Hueneme, Calif., are operating from their home base. Three others, two from the 302nd Airlift Wing, U.S. Air Force Reserve Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, Colo., and one from the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard, based in Charlotte, N.C., have been part of the MAFFS squadron operating from Boise.

Aircraft operations at Boise will end today, but the command element for MAFFS will remain at Gowen Field here in order to coordinate with the National Interagency Fire Center. The Boise aircraft are expected at McClellan by late afternoon in the Pacific time zone.

MAFFS initially activated June 11 to assist in fighting forest fires in Southern Colorado. Since activating, MAFFS aircraft have made 479 drops using 1,211,631 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. The Colorado- and California-based units are currently activated.

USNORTHCOM 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.

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Contact: Lt. Col. Robert Carver
Phone: (919) 323-5416

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