Defense Update: Fire-Fighting C-130s in the Air Again
Master Sgts. Marshall Davis and Chris Reese prepare the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) unit installed in a C-130 Hercules to respond to the Waldo Canyon wildfire in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 27. MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system 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. Davis and Reese are 153rd Airlift Wing loadmasters. (U.S. Air Force photo)
After the crash of the North Carolina Air National Guard C-130 while fighting fires in South Dakota, all seven remaining military C-130 aircraft equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) were placed on “operational hold.” i.e. grounded, in what officials described as “a prudent measure.”
The C-130 crews were gathered Monday to “reflect, reset and review,” according to Air Force Col. Jerry Champlin, 153rd Air Expeditionary Group commander. “We all need to make sure our crews and planes will be ready to re-engage in the mission safely,” he said.
On Tuesday, July 3, six of the eight MAFFS-equipped C-130s were once again assisting in the efforts to control fires in the Rocky Mountain region and western United States.
As of early Wednesday morning, July 4, DoD aircraft had conducted 105 air drops and discharged more than 270,000 gallons of retardant.
The six C-130s are continuing to fly out of Peterson Air Force Base, near Colorado Springs.
Members of the second North Carolina C-130 returned home to Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday morning to be with friends and family and mourn the loss of their fellow airmen.