U.S. Air Force C-130H plane crashes during a firefighting mission in South Dakota

At 18.00LT on Jul. 1, a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) equipped C-130H, identified as serial number 92-1454 (156 AS/145AW NC ANG), supporting firefighting missions against the White Draw Fire, crashed in the southwest corner of South Dakota.

At the time of writing, the cause of the crash is not known and the incident is under investigation. There are no details on the status of the three crew members that were transported to the Rapid City Regional Hospital.

MAFFS is not only the name of a joint DoD and U.S. Forest Service program whose aim is to provide additional aerial firefighting resources when civil (commercial and private) airtankers are unable to meet the needs of the forest service, but it is also the designation of a self-contained aerial firefighting system used in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The MAFFS system can offload 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than 5 seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. It can be refilled on the ground in less than 12 minutes.

Since Jun. 25, MAFFS-equipped aircraft have been operating from Peterson Air Force Base, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, assisting with fire fighting efforts in the Rocky Mountain region.

At the request of the U.S. Forest Service, four of the eight military MAFFS-equipped C-130s, from the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing and the North Carolina National Guard’s 145th Airlift Wing are moving to Wyoming Air National Guard’s base, in Cheyenne, to minimize retardant reloading time.

The following videos show MAFFS-equipped C-130s (of the 145AW) involved in firefighting activities against wildfires.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.