The U.S. Forest Service has requested four Air Force C-130 Hercules air tankers equipped with MAFFS be activated to assist the civilian air tanker fleet.
The MAFFS (Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems) will help an air tanker fleet that has been stretched thin due to numerous fires burning across the western U.S. This includes several fires burning across Colorado, including the Waldo Canyon Fire burning just outside of Colorado Springs, home to Peterson AFB.
Jennifer Jones spokesperson for Fire and Aviation Management of the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho says the planes will be set to fly missions no later than Tuesday June 26th.
“Two of the MAFFS will be provided by the 302nd Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado and two of the MAFFS will be provided by the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard, Cheyenne. They will be based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado”
The C-130’s can only be activated when the U.S. Forest Service reaches a point when all civilian air tankers are in service, or unavailable. With numerous fires burning across the western U.S., and the civilian tanker fleet dwindling to around 17 planes, this is the first time the Air Force C-130’s have been activated this year.
Earlier this year, I visited Peterson Air Force Base during training for the MAFFS air crews. MAFFS can be slid on and off the planes and be ready for service in as little as 48 hours. Each plane can hold 3,000 gallons of retardant, foam or water.
Here is video of the training drop at Peterson AFB:
User heyeng130 posted this video from training flights this year that will give you a sense of what the pilot sees from the cockpit of the C-130: