Air Force Firefighting Operations Conclude in Texas

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After performing 111 sorties and dropping 333,000 gallons of fire retardant over the wildfires that have been burning in south and west Texas, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel and their Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) aircraft are heading back home.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) released the units May 5, concluding the Air Force Reserve and Guard support of Texas firefighting efforts that have been ongoing since specially equipped U.S. Air Force C-130s began dropping retardant April 17.

Under the direction of the Joint Forces Air Component commander for Air Forces Northern at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., four C-130 Hercules aircraft equipped with firefighting capabilities deployed to Dyess AFB, Texas, as part of the 302nd Air Expeditionary Wing to help douse the raging wildfires that plagued Texas since January 1.

Returning to their home stations May 6 were personnel and two MAFFS-equipped aircraft each from the Air Force Reserve’s 302nd Airlift Wing in Colorado and the California Air National Guard’s 146th AW. Other MAFFS units that participated in the firefighting efforts were the Wyoming ANG’s 153rd AW and North Carolina ANG’s 145th AW, which each supplied one MAFFS C-130. The 153rd AW and 145th AW swapped out duty with the 302nd AW on April 26.

"While the brunt of the firefighting efforts on a day-to-day basis is performed by the firefighters on the ground, we are extremely proud to have supported their outstanding efforts to suppress the fires and help the citizens of Texas start to recover," said Col. Jay Pittman, 302nd AW commander. "We will continue to stay poised to render support when tasked in the future."

The MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system which can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than 5 seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 60 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.

The system is owned by the USDA Forest Service, one of several federal and state government agencies and organizations with roles and responsibilities in wildland fire suppression that make up the NIFC in Boise, Idaho. The Department of Defense flew at the request of NIFC.

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