Other News Releases
For Release: July 22, 2020
Contact: Stanton Florea
USDA Forest Service
Two MAFFS-equipped C-130 aircraft activated to assist with wildfires
First use of aircraft with Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems (MAFFS) since 2018
Boise, Idaho, July 22, 2020 – The USDA Forest Service has activated two military C-130 aircraft equipped
with Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems (MAFFS) to assist with increased fire activity in several
The aircraft, from the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing, will join the USDA Forest Service
and other agencies battling western wildfires. The aircraft will be operational beginning July 23 from
McClellan Airbase in Sacramento.
“We’re experiencing elevated fire activity in several regions of the country,” said Kim Christensen, deputy
assistant director for operations for the USDA Forest Service. “These aircraft will help boost our aerial
firefighting capabilities for current and anticipated wildfire activity.”
Having military C-130s that can be converted into airtankers provides a critical “surge” capability that can
be used to augment wildfire suppression efforts when the commercial airtankers are fully committed or
not readily available. This is the first activation of MAFFS-equipped aircraft since July of 2018.
The aircraft are equipped with the U.S. Forest Service’s MAFFS, which can drop up to 3,000 gallons of fire
retardant in less than 10 seconds across a quarter-mile line. The system slides into the back of the military
aircraft, and retardant is released through a nozzle on the rear left side.
In addition to the 146th Airlift Wing, MAFFS aircraft are from the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift
Wing, Peterson AFB, Colorado; the Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing, Cheyenne, Wyoming; and the
152nd Airlift Wing, Reno, Nevada. U.S. Transportation Command activates these aircraft through its Air
Mobility Command in support of U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). While the 146th Airlift Wing will
provide the initial response, aircraft and crews are expected to change out on weekly intervals with the
other Airlift Wings.
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), located in Boise, Idaho, is the nation's support center for
wildland firefighting. Eight different agencies and organizations are part of NIFC including, the Bureau of
Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest
Service, National Weather Service, U.S. Fire Administration, and the National Association of State Foresters.