HomeAbout UsFact SheetsDisplay

Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System

FILE PHOTO -- Air National Guard C-130 Hercules equipped with modular airborne firefighting systems, similar to this one, are dropping thousands of gallons of retardant on the wildfires in Southern California.  The fires have destroyed more than 830 homes and burned out more than 500,000 acres.  California officials said the fires are responsible for at least 15 deaths.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Daryl McKamey)

Air National Guard C-130 Hercules equipped with modular airborne firefighting systems, similar to this one, are dropping thousands of gallons of retardant on the wildfires in Southern California. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Daryl McKamey)

Approximately 3,000 gallons of fire retardant is deployed Oct. 24 over the Poomacha Fire in North San Diego County, Calif. The C-130 Hercules and crew are assigned to the 302nd Airlift Wing from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. The aircraft launched from Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Calif. Air Force Reserve Command officials sent two of its designated firefighting C-130H3 aircraft to help battle the raging wildfires in Southern California. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Roy. A. Santana)

Approximately 3,000 gallons of fire retardant is deployed Oct. 24 over the Poomacha Fire in North San Diego County, Calif. The C-130 Hercules and crew are assigned to the 302nd Airlift Wing from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. The aircraft launched from Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Calif. Air Force Reserve Command officials sent two of its designated firefighting C-130H3 aircraft to help battle the raging wildfires in Southern California. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Roy. A. Santana)

C-130 Hercules Modular Airborne Firefighting System aircraft No. 5, or MAFFS 5, sits on the flightline at Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Calif., after deploying 3,000 gallons of fire retardant over the Poomacha fire Oct. 24 in North San Diego County, Calif. The C-130 and crew are assigned to the 302nd Airlift Wing from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. Air Force Reserve Command officials sent two of its designated firefighting C-130H3 aircraft to help battle the raging wildfires in Southern California. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Roy. A. Santana)

C-130 Hercules Modular Airborne Firefighting System aircraft No. 5, or MAFFS 5, sits on the flightline at Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Calif., after deploying 3,000 gallons of fire retardant over the Poomacha fire Oct. 24 in North San Diego County, Calif. The C-130 and crew are assigned to the 302nd Airlift Wing from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. Air Force Reserve Command officials sent two of its designated firefighting C-130H3 aircraft to help battle the raging wildfires in Southern California. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Roy. A. Santana)

The Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, or MAFFS, Program provides emergency capability to supplement existing commercial tanker support on wildland fires.  MAFFS aids the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service. When all other air tankers are activated but further assistance is needed, the Forest Service can request help from the  Air Force's MAFFS units.  MAFFS is a mission that highlights interagency cooperation.

MAFFS units fit inside C-130 airplanes without requiring structural modification. This allows the units to be loaded on short notice.  It takes about two hours to load a MAFFS unit onto the C-130. The C-130s drop retardant from an altitude of about 150 feet through a discharge tube located in place of the left rear paratroop door of the aircraft.
A MAFFS unit can discharge its load -- 3,000 gallons weighing 28,000 pounds -- in less than five seconds. The retardant covers an area one-quarter of a mile long and 60 feet wide. After the plane discharges its load, and returns to an air tanker base, it can be refilled and airborne again in less than 20 minutes.

MAFFS units can drop either water or retardant called "slurry."  Slurry is made of 80 to 85 percent water, 10 to 15 percent ammonium sulfate, a jelling agent and red coloring. The red in the retardant helps pilots see where they have dropped previous loads. Along with retarding the fire, the slurry acts as a fertilizer. Because the MAFFS discharges the agent in a mist, slurry does not cause damage to buildings.  

Crews who fly MAFFS missions participate in annual re-currency training. Each wing is required to have five certified crews for each MAFFS unit.

In the 1970s, Congress established the MAFFS system after a major fire burned into Long Beach, Calif., destroyed hundreds of homes, and overwhelmed the civilian tanker fleet's ability to respond. Today, one Air Force Reserve Command and three Air National Guard locations participate in the MAFFS Program. 

The 302nd Airlift Wing in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the only Reserve unit. The Guard units include the145th AW in Charlotte, N.C.; the 146th AW in Channel Islands, Calif. and the 153rd AW in Cheyenne, Wyo. The 302nd AW has two of the MAFFS units and the Guard has two units each for a total of eight systems nationwide.

Engage

Twitter
Reflecting on the Fortress 🏰 The reflection of a B-52 Stratofortress can be seen in SSgt Brandon Toth's lenses as… https://t.co/lh6jhq18Th
Twitter
Falcons get thirsty too. ⛽ F-16 Fighting Falcons fly over the @CENTCOM area of responsibility. The F-16 is a comp… https://t.co/EBSfhjHhjh
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Mark your calendar for the 2020 Exceptional Family Member Program virtual Summit happening Oct 21 at 9 a.m. CDT. on the Dep…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Thank you #Switzerland for longstanding cooperation & partnership in technical excellence. The @USAirForce values Switze…
Twitter
RT @NORADCommand: North American Aerospace Defense Command F-22 fighter aircraft, supported by E-3 airborne warning and control system and…
Twitter
RT @AFEnergy: DYK our engine sustainment initiatives can reduce fuel use by 2-3% AND increase engine performance? #EnergyAbleMissionCapab
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: Great coverage of the upcoming @AFRSO Advanced Manufacturing Olympics set for next week in @Forbes. Don't miss this exciting o…
Twitter
Keeping us a #ReadyAF by strengthening partnerships w/our allies! 💪 #AimHigh https://t.co/wmMDgLeTd3
Twitter
The Air Force Civil Engineer Center is executing $87 million in critical airfield construction at one of the most i… https://t.co/bRhCVY7X6R
Twitter
Got power? ⚡ This year's energy resilience theme is "Energy Able, Mission Capable." #EnergyAwarenessMonth Follo… https://t.co/yRhhSDQLcT
Twitter
Suicide prevention training is now available for Air Force families as a way to educate spouses, partners, adult fa… https://t.co/68Trsq4AvC
Twitter
Modernizing the force. @NellisAFB was one of the first five @DeptofDefense bases named to host new 5G technology,… https://t.co/aOpGtX2wZq
Twitter
Airmen from Will Rogers Air National Guard Base and @Team_Tinker participated in a Tactical Combat Casualty Care fo… https://t.co/9xKP1H3e3D
Twitter
“Resiliency is readiness & readiness breeds culture.” - @CMSAF_Official Connection to others is a basic human need… https://t.co/s6ktJj7jyX
Twitter
Training to be the best on the worst day. #ReadyAF https://t.co/KGwHLG0oVK
Twitter
.@AFWERX is hosting a "Reimagining Energy for the DOD" challenge, seeking solutions to create the future of resilie… https://t.co/oGKgli3pbd
Twitter
The circumstance the family lived in led to constant emotional turmoil, which boiled over when SrA Zatavia Funchess… https://t.co/wY5rG0rdUr
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Born & raised in the Philippines, A1C Antonette Joanne Delos Santos of @97AMW, earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering be…
Twitter
The Air Force Civil Engineer Center announced the winners of the 2020 Air Force Design Awards, recognizing seven in… https://t.co/1S5zPl3D7s
Twitter
The #USAF has increased aircraft availability & readiness across three of its bases thanks to new sustainment initi… https://t.co/UKmePcUphL
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,294,790
Follow Us