Firefighting aircraft deploy to Arizona

25 May 2004 |

Two Air Force Reserve Command C-130 Hercules aircraft and their crews deployed to Mesa, Ariz., May 23 to prepare for fire season in Arizona.

The planes, equipped with the modular airborne firefighting system, are being pre-positioned to augment the Forest Service. The system disperses a liquid fire retardant.

Under a pre-existing agreement between the Department of Defense and the Forest Service, the MAFFS-equipped aircraft may be used when all civilian tankers are activated but further assistance is still needed.

“This year it's a little special because all the commercial contract carriers have been grounded due to some accidents they had a couple of years ago,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Moss, 302nd Airlift Wing commander.

The aircraft and about 30 Airmen from the 302nd AEW will deploy for at least 14 days. However, that could change depending how the fire season progresses, the general said. Also, 12 to 14 more maintainers could be deployed if more flying is required.

“We definitely don't know how long this could last,” General Moss said. “They're working on a back up [plan] but until that time, we're there if they need us.”