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Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) History

The 2013 fire season was an active season for 302nd Airlift Wing MAFFS-equipped C-130s and aircrews. It began with the wing's MAFFS activation in support of the Black Forest, Colorado, fire on June 11. The 302nd Airlift Wing continued its support of wildland fire containment efforts in Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, California and Oregon through Aug. 30. The 302 AW MAFFS contributed to the combined MAFFS Air Expeditionary Group's 2013 employment totals of 541 MAFFS drops releasing 1,387,881 gallons of retardant.

The wildland fire season of 2014 was notable as only two MAFFS-equipped C-130 aircraft were initially activated by the U.S. Forest Service. This request for assistance was met by the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard. The 302 AW did not activate any MAFFS-equipped aircraft but did supply Airmen for aircrew, mission commander and Air Expeditionary Group support. MAFFS AEG totals for 2014 were 249,854 gallons of retardant released during 133 drops in four states: Utah, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. An aircrew aboard a WYANG C-130, including a co-pilot assigned to the 302 AW, received the Air Mobility Command Chief of Safety Aircrew of Distinction Award for its efforts in safely landing the MAFFS-equipped C-130 following a landing gear malfunction while fighting fires in southern Utah.

In 2015, DoD MAFFS’ firefighting surge capability was activated on Aug. 2 and supported U.S. Forest Service operations until Sept. 12 with all four MAFFS wings participating. Most of the firefighting was conducted out of McClellan Air Force Base, California, with another base set up at Channel Islands, California, toward the end of the season. MAFFS-equipped C-130s flew on approximately 15 different fires in California. MAFFS AEG totals for 2015 were 842,983 gallons of retardant released in 338 drops and 372 sorties.

The 2016 MAFFS activation began with a Request for Assistance by the National Interagency Fire Center based in Boise, Idaho, on Aug. 2. The RFA requested two MAFFS-equipped C-130s along with appropriate command, control and support personnel to assist in wildfire suppression efforts in the Western U.S. Aircraft and aircrews from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson SFB, Colo. and the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing, Cheyenne, Wyo. provided the requested MAFFS capabilities, supporting suppression efforts to fires in Idaho, Oregon, Nevada and Utah Aug. 3 to Sep. 3. The MAFFS-equipped C-130s based out of Boise Air Tanker Base, Idaho, made 165 retardant drops, releasing 395,632 gallons of retardant. In addition to the U.S. Forest Service MAFFS RFA, the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing supported a state activation of MAFFS providing aerial firefighting suppression missions throughout California. Their efforts resulted in 112 drops, releasing 288,000 gallons of retardant.    

In 2017, the 302 AW began MAFFS operations after receiving an RFA from NIFC on July 27. The NIFC request was made due to elevated fire activity throughout California, the Great Basin, the Northwest and Northern Rockies geographic areas. Together, the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd AW and activated Air National Guard MAFFS wings supported fire suppression missions that took them to more than two dozen fires throughout California. The MAFFS Air Expeditionary Group C-130 crews flew 293 sorties in 2017, dropping more than 820,000 gallons of retardant in 315 drops, all on California fires. The 302nd AW also supported MAFFS efforts with aircrew members providing MAFFS instruction to Nevada ANG personnel who, in 2017, were going into their second year of MAFFS missions. The 302 AW also provided command and administrative support to the MAFFS AEG in Boise. The 2017 MAFFS activation ended Sept. 16.