Friday, August 14, 2015

N.C. National Guard Deploys to Fight California Forest Fires

Aug 14, 2015

North Carolina Air National Guard airmen and a C-130 aircraft based at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport here have been ordered to California at the request of federal authorities to support wildland forest fire fighting efforts there.

An aircrew from the 145th Airlift Wing departed yesterday to support the fire-fighting effort operating from McClellan Air Tanker Base near Sacramento, Calif.

An N.C. Air National Guard C-130H3 Hercules aircraft equipped with a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) unit was scheduled to leave Charlotte for California Friday, Aug. 14.

MAFFS initially activated Aug. 1 at the request of the U.S. Forest Service to assist in fighting forest fires in Northern California and Oregon. The 145th airmen join other MAFFS airmen from the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Wyoming Air National Guard also deployed to McClellan.

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.