Wyo. Air Guard to host MAFFS training in Arizona

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Trudy Woodcock
  • Wyoming Military Department
The Wyoming Air National Guard will send personnel and aircraft to Tucson, Ariz., to host the annual aerial firefighting training from May 3 - 9. The Wyoming Air Guard is one of four military units nationwide equipped with - and trained to operate - the U.S. Forest Service's Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System. 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 wing's, with each system capable of dropping up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant. 

The annual 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. 

Participating agencies include the following:
- (Hosting unit) 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard, Cheyenne, Wyo.
- 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard, Charlotte, N.C.
- 302nd Airlift Wing, U.S. Air Force Reserve, Colorado Springs, Colo.
- 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard, Port Hueneme, Calif.
- United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service
- United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management
- United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs
- North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Division of Forest Services
- California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, CalFire 

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. 

In July of 2008, a Wyoming Air Guard C-130 dropped its millionth gallon of fire retardant on a wildfire within the Motion fire located in the Shasta Complex in northern California's Shasta and Trinity counties.