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MAFFS-equipped C-130s Idaho-bound for reservists' training - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

MAFFS-equipped C-130s Idaho-bound for reservists' training

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Reservists with Peterson Air Force Base's 302nd Airlift Wing are headed to Boise, Idaho this week for training on the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, or MAFFS.  C-130 Hercules cargo planes snugly equipped with the MAFFS are key tools for fighting wildfires across the western United States.  The planes are based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.  "Aircrew and support personnel will take part in the annual U.S. Forest Service-hosted aerial firefighting training ... at Gowen Field, Boise, Idaho," according to a 302nd Airlift Wing press release.

The MAFFS-equipped C-130s are able to drop up to 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, then refill in less than 12 minutes.  Flying just above stall speed, the liquid drop releases 27,000 pounds nearly all at once.  Crews spent Tuesday equipping the C-130s and testing the MAFFS before flying to Idaho.  "We always strive to get everything just right," said Lieutenant Colonel Brad Ross, a MAFFS instructor pilot.  "It's a very rewarding mission.  We all love doing it," Ross said.

MAFFS-equipped C-130s helped fight 2012's Waldo Canyon Fire and 2013's Black Forest Fire, however the firefighting planes are generally used as a last resort.  "If aircraft aren't available because they're committed to other incidents or unavailable for other reasons, then we bring in the MAFFS units," said U.S. Forest Service spokesperson Lawrence Lujan.  "If we show up, it means that the existing capabilities have been exceeded, so they're asking for a little bit of extra help," Ross said, "which means that something is probably going downhill where they didn't want it to."

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