CHEYENNE, Wyo., July 1, 2012 - Starting tomorrow, four of the eight Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped C-130 military aircraft presently stationed at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., to combat wildfires in Colorado and other western states will begin operating out of the Wyoming Air National Guard's base in Cheyenne.
Since June 25, MAFFS-equipped aircraft have been operating from Peterson, located in Colorado Springs, to assist with firefighting efforts in the Rocky Mountain region.
Four additional C-130 aircraft arrived at Peterson yesterday, bringing the total of MAFFS-equipped aircraft based there to eight.
The four C-130s from the Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing and the North Carolina National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing are moving from Colorado Springs to Cheyenne at the request of the U.S. Forest Service to minimize fire retardant reloading time, said Air Force Col. Jerry Champlin, 153rd Air Expeditionary Group commander.
"Moving four of our aircraft further north will allow the Forest Service tremendous flexibility to assist with several regional fires at once," he said. "Reducing the reaction time to get to fires in Wyoming and South Dakota, for example, will be a huge force multiplier."
The four aircraft from the California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing, from Channel Islands, and the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing based at Peterson Air Force Base, will continue to operate from Peterson.
The C-130s have dropped more than 170,000 gallons of fire retardant on the Waldo Canyon and Flagstaff fires in Colorado, the Arapaho fire in Wyoming, and the White Draw fire in South Dakota.
"They are assigned to fires on a priority basis for each day," said Forest Service spokesman Scott Fisher. "Air tankers may also be re-assigned during the day, based on a shift in priority for the Rocky Mountain coordination center."
MAFFS, a joint Department of Defense and Forest Service program, is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the Forest Service that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, covering an area one-quarter-of-a-mile long, by 100-feet wide.
After an aircraft discharges its load of fire retardant, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.
From a 153rd Air Expeditionary Group News Release
More Aircraft Arrive to Combat Western Wildfires