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North Carolina Air National Guard Train for MAFFS Mission

Greenville, S.C. -- Airmen from the North Carolina Air National Guard are training for use of the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System at the South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center in Greenville, S.C., April 25-30.

The 145 AW, NCANG based out of Charlotte is one of four military units assigned to perform the MAFFS mission dropping fire retardant ahead of a wild fire to assist round crews in controlling the spread, and the only unit based on the east coast.

"The aircraft flew all of their sorties on time yesterday with no maintenance issues," said Master Sgt. Shawn Crisco, a maintenance supervisor with the NCANG.

Aircraft are "turned" at a frenzied pace, as one leaves to perform a drop another pulls into the "pit" to be loaded with fire retardant, fuel and possibly swap crews.

"All of our loads were on target yesterday," said Tech. Sgt. Jeffery Page, a loadmaster with the NCANG responsible for operating the MAFFS system in the cargo area of the aircraft releasing the cargo of fire retardant.

The purpose military MAFFS aircraft is to supplement commercial firefighting aircraft in the event they become overwhelmed with wildfire intensity or coverage area.

"The northwest region of our nation is projected to be hotter and dryer than normal this year increasing the opportunities and intensity for wildfires in that region increasing the possibility of our need to use the military MAFFS aircraft this year," said Neal Hitchcock, the deputy assistant director of operations for the USDA Forest Service.

MAFFS is a partnership between federal land management agencies and the military to provide supplemental air tankers to assist in fire suppression efforts nationwide.