Story by Jacqueline Marshall
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing has been mobilized to support fire suppression efforts in Klamath Falls, Ore.
At the request of the National Interagency Fire Center, U.S. Northern Command has deployed two C-130 aircraft equipped with Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) to assist with wildland firefighting operations across western states. The Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing, based in Cheyenne, Wyo. and the 302nd Airlift Wing with the U.S. Air Force Reserve in Colorado Springs, Colo., will each contribute one aircraft, and the C-130s will report to Klamath Falls Airtanker Base, Ore. Air Forces Northern, U.S. Northern Command’s Air Component Command, will oversee the military aerial operation in support of federal and state efforts.
“We are fully prepared to undertake this crucial mission. The MAFFS aircraft play a pivotal role in combatting wildfires, and their swift deployment to affected areas allows us to respond rapidly to emerging fire incidents,” stated Col. Barry Deibert, commander of the 153rd Airlift Wing. “Our primary goal is to enhance aircraft operations, ensuring the protection of lives, and property, and providing unwavering support to the multi-agency firefighting response effort.”
The U.S. Forest Service owns the MAFFS equipment and supplies the fire retardant, while the DoD provides the C-130 H and J model aircraft, flight crews, and maintenance and support personnel to fly the missions.
“The MAFFS Airmen stand ready to support our interagency partners as this wildfire season begins,” said U.S. Air National Guard Colonel Matthew Glynn, Air Expeditionary Group Commander and Vice Commander for the 146th Airlift Wing. “2023 represents the 50th anniversary of this critical partnership between the Department of Defense, the United States Forest Service, and other state and federal agencies.”
The MAFFS are versatile fire-retardant delivery systems designed to seamlessly integrate with military C-130 aircraft, requiring no significant structural modifications. This adaptability allows the aircraft to be converted into airtankers swiftly as the situation demands. Capable of delivering up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant in under 10 seconds along a quarter-mile stretch, the MAFFS offer a powerful firefighting solution. The system is easily loaded into the rear of the military aircraft and employs a rear left-side nozzle for precise release of the retardant.