Guard and Reserve aerial firefighting resources scheduled to conduct annual training in Arizona

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Trudy Woodcock
  • Wyoming Military Department
The Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing in Cheyenne, Wyo., in coordination with the Coronado National Forest in southeastern Arizona, will host the annual Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System training in Tucson, Ariz., from May 3-9. 

The training will consist of up to 300 civilian and military personnel, including both classroom and flight training for military flight crews, civilian lead plane pilots and various support personnel. MAFFS support specialists and aviators from the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, North Carolina Forest Service, and California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection will lead the week-long training. 

Military personnel involved with this training include host unit, the 153rd Airlift Wing of the Wyoming Air National Guard in Cheyenne, Wyo; the 145th Airlift Wing of the North Carolina Air National Guard in Charlotte, N.C.; the 302nd Airlift Wing with the U.S. Air Force Reserve of Colorado Springs, Colo.; and the 146th Airlift Wing of the California Air National Guard in Port Hueneme, Calif. 

The military C-130s equipped with slide-in MAFFS units can drop up to 3,000 gallons of retardant per run on wildfires. The four MAFFS-designated military units must perform refresher training each spring before the start to wild-land fire season. 

MAFFS is a partnership between federal land management agencies and the military to provide supplemental air tankers to assist in fire suppression efforts nationwide during times of high fire activity. The system itself is a portable fire retardant delivery system that can be easily inserted into military C-130 aircraft, converting the vessel into an air tanker when the civilian fleet is fully committed. There are two units assigned to each of the four military wings, with a total of eight aircraft available for supporting civilian agencies if necessary. 

Congress established the authority for the MAFFS program in the early 1970's to support wild-land firefighting through an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service. The military aircraft are requested by the National Interagency Fire Center and activated through the U.S. Northern Command, based on an agreement with the Department of Defense. The most recent MAFFS mission was mobilized in June 2008.