CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The North Carolina Air National Guard's 145th Airlift Wing, based here, will send two aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System to Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., Saturday morning to support firefighting efforts throughout the Rocky Mountain area.
MAFFS is a joint Department of Defense and U.S. Forest Service program designed to provide additional aerial firefighting resources when commercial and private air tankers are no longer able to meet the needs of the forest service. The Charlotte-based aircraft will join C-130s from the Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing and the U.S. Air Force Reserve's 302nd Airlift Wing based in Colorado, which have been operating from Colorado Springs since June 25. Additionally, C-130s from the California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing will also join the effort Saturday.
MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the U.S. 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. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes. Retardant is discharged along the leading edge of a fire while water can be dropped directly on the flames.
They are considered a 24-hour resource, meaning that MAFFS aircraft can be at their deployed location and fighting fires within 24 hours. The 145th received notification of the mission today.
In addition to the two aircraft, which will carry the MAFFS modules, a third aircraft carrying support personnel and equipment will also join the mission. In all, some three dozen 145th members will deploy.
The 145th is one of only four units nationwide tasked with the MAFFS mission. All four are either Air National Guard or U.S. Air Force Reserve units. Each unit operates two MAFFS modules.