At the request of California Gov. Jerry Brown (D), the state Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing at Channel Islands ANG Station is activating two of its specially configured C-130J aircraft to help battle wildfires in the state, announced state officials on Monday. “Wildfire season is upon us, and our Guardsmen are in the fight,” said Army Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, California’s adjutant general, in a May 6 release. The Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System II-equipped C-130s will stage from home at Channel Islands, allowing for shorter response times to the fires in Ventura County in southern California, states the release. The MAFFS-carrying airplanes are capable of dropping up to 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in a single pass. “Our well-exercised and long-standing relationship with the California National Guard allows for rapid, effective deployment of these additional resources during times of elevated fire activity,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. (See also Airborne Firefighting Units Hold Certification Training.)
Whether the F-35 fighter will get new engines from the Air Force’s cutting-edge Adaptive Engine Transition Program is a question that needs to be resolved at the Defense Department level, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told lawmakers May 17—and he anticipates an answer in the 2024 budget.