News: MAFFS II training conducted at the Wyoming Air Guard
Story by Staff Sgt. Natalie Stanley
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — Select C-130 cargo plane crews with the Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing began preparing for their mission to fight fires from the air with a new training regiment centered on practicing in Wyoming.
The airmen conducted annual Modular Airborne Firefighting System II training with the U.S. Forest Service at the Wyoming Air National Guard Base, Cheyenne, Wyo., and Camp Guernsey Joint Training Center, Guernsey, Wyo., during the week of April 16.
During training, the WyANG works closely with the forest service, who owns the MAFFS units, to accomplish the mission.
Training in the past required all four MAFFS units from across the country, three Air National Guard and one Air Force Reserve, to meet in one spot; however this year's training is new and more efficient, with the forest service coming to Cheyenne to train Wyoming's airmen.
"We have forest service liaisons here every time we operate MAFFS, helping us out, getting us what we need to get the mission done," said Capt. Tim Ray, aircraft commander, "and of course we try to help them as best we can, too."
The MAFFS system was established in the 1970s and uses Air National Guard aircraft to release fire retardant and water from tanks onboard the aircraft.
The MAFFS II system was implemented in 2011 and has several improvements over the old system including: a more efficient spray pattern; a new trigger system and more dispersal options; an air compressor to assist in reloading water and retardant; and the aircraft is now able to fly with the back end closed, keeping it pressurized, enabling the aircraft to fly higher and operate more fuel efficiently.
"It's a great asset to the forest service for firefighting capabilities, bringing in the aerial assets," said Ray. "A lot of the civilian tankers right now are down for various maintenance reasons, so they rely on MAFFS as a backup firefighting force."
The training encompasses upgrades, and recurring and new training for the various crew positions.
MAFFS planes, accompanied by forest service lead planes, fly from the WyANG Base to Camp Guernsey, to drop water.
"MAFFS is the most challenging training that we do," said Ray, "you really have to keep your skills sharp and your training current to make sure that your staying safe while fighting the fires."