Firefighting C-130s Reach Hefty Drop Milestone

The Air Force’s small fleet of C-130 firefighting airplanes has dropped more than two million gallons of fire retardant against wildfires in 10 western US states since beginning operations in late June, announced service officials on Aug. 28. This makes 2012 one of top years in terms of retardant dispensed in the history of these Modular Airborne Firefighting System-carrying C-130s, they said. Through Aug. 27, the MAFFS force had released some 2,152,600 gallons of retardant in 899 drops, they said. The fleet surpassed the two-million-gallon milestone on Aug. 24 during a sortie in Idaho. “This has been an extremely challenging year with several large fires and severe drought conditions. Our MAFFS aircrews and aircraft maintainers have been working long hours every day,” said Col. Jerry Champlin, who oversees MAFFS operations as 153rd Air Expeditionary Group commander. The MAFFS C-130s come from Air National Guard wings in California, North Carolina, and Wyoming, and an Air Force Reserve Command unit in Colorado. (Peterson report by Ann Skarban)