Peterson AFB crews prepare for annual MAFFS training

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Crews from Peterson Air Force Base are preparing to leave for annual MAFFS training in Idaho.

MAFFS, otherwise known as the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems, are military planes used for aerial fire fighting. The program was created in the 1970s and is a joint effort between the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Defense.

Three-thousand gallons of fire retardant can be discharged in less than 5 seconds, capable of suppressing wildfires and assisting crews on the ground.

“It allows us time,” said Lawrence Lujan, a press officer with the Forest Service. “It creates containment lines for us and again it reduces that fire intensity and it gives us time for our firefighters on the ground to do the work that they’re doing.”

In the days leading up to the annual training, crews must install and test fire the MAFFS system both on the ground and in the air using water.

“It pushes us into a higher risk area than we normally operate out of so that’s why we require an annual training event,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Tanton, a MAFFS navigator with the Air Force. “We have a very high level of scrutiny for which crews we bring into this mission because without doing this training on an annual basis, it simply wouldn’t be safe.”

In the event of a wildfire, the MAFFS units are used as a backup when initial resources and air tankers are either busy or exhausted.

“The MAFFS units provide a surge capacity,” said Lujan. “Anytime our other aircraft is committed on another fire or otherwise unavailable we call on the MAFFS units to provide fire suppression support.”

“This is a scenario where you can see homes on one side of the aircraft and then an advancing fire on the other and it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in my Air Force career without a doubt,” said Tanton.

The 302nd Airlift Wing will be sending two of the three C-130 aircraft planes equipped with MAFFS to training in Boise, Idaho.



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