BROOMFIELD, Colo. – Residents who live near the Arapaho and Roosevelt, Medicine Bow, and Pike and San Isabel National Forests will start seeing low-flying aircraft Monday. But don’t be alarmed, it’s all part of an annual wildland fire training.
Members from the Air Force Reserve’s 302nd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing and other firefighting agencies will begin flying out the Jeffco Airtanker Base Monday for about a week as they conduct this important training.
The C-130s that will be flying out of the base will be equipped with Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (or MAFFS, for short), which will essentially convert them into airtankers meant to provide a critical “surge” capability that can be used to augment wildfire suppression efforts, said a spokesperson with the US Forest Service – Rocky Mountain region.
MAFFS are only activated when all commercial airtankers that are part of the national airtanker fleet are fully committed or not readily available.
“The Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) program provides an important supplement to our national airtanker capacity,” said Kim Christensen, deputy assistant director for operations for the USDA Forest Service. “This week is our opportunity to train with our military partners and recertify these important aerial firefighting resources.”
The 302nd Airlift Wing and 153rd Airlift Wing C-130 Hercules aircraft are equipped with the USDA Forest Service’s MAFFS, which can drop up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant in less than 10 seconds across a quarter-mile line, the spokesperson said.
The three Air National Guard wings tasked with conducting MAFFS missions include: The 146th Airlift Wing from Channel Islands, Calif., 152nd Airlift Wing from Reno, Nev. and the 153rd Airlift Wing from Cheyenne, Wyo, the USDA Forest Service said.
The 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., is the only Air Force Reserve unit carrying out the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System mission.