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Brazilian Assistance Bolsters Colombia’s Aerial Firefighting Efforts with MAFFS II

Brazil has extended a helping hand to Colombia by providing the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS II), a valuable resource from the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). This assistance comes as Colombia grapples with wildfires that have ravaged approximately 18,000 hectares of its forests since November. The MAFFS II system was transported from Anápolis Air Base in Goiás to Galeão Air Base in Rio de Janeiro aboard a FAB KC-390 Millenium aircraft.

Upon arrival in Rio, the MAFFS II equipment was installed onto a Hercules C-130 aircraft belonging to the Colombian Air Force (FAC). With a capacity of 12,000 liters of water or retardant, MAFFS II is capable of projecting a flame-retardant charge through the side door of the fuselage while maintaining the aircraft’s interior pressurized, thus ensuring optimal performance. This system has previously been utilized in Brazil to combat fires in the Amazon and was also employed by the FAB in 2023 during firefighting efforts in Chile.

In addition to Brazilian aid, the Colombian government anticipates receiving support from the National Police in the form of three Air Tractor AT-802 agricultural aircraft in the coming days. These aircraft, originally deployed for applications against illegal coca crops, will now be repurposed to assist in firefighting operations. Furthermore, the Peruvian government has offered assistance by sending a firefighting system to Colombia, which will be installed in another FAC Hercules aircraft.

Meanwhile, concerns surrounding the operational status of Colombian Air Force aircraft have ignited debates within the Colombian National Congress. Allegations suggest that 40% of FAC aircraft are currently out of service, leaving many firefighters and rescuers without adequate transportation to reach wildfire sites. This underscores the urgency of addressing maintenance and operational issues within the FAC to ensure effective response to future crises.