The US Forest Service relieved the Air Force ‘s specially configured C-130 transports from aerial fire-fighting duties now that the severity of wildfires in the western part of the United States has lessened and civilian air tankers are increasingly available, announced US Northern Command officials on Thursday. However, the Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped C-130s and their crews remain available for recall, if needed, said the officials in the Sept. 5 release. Since the MAFFS C-130s began fighting fires this year in mid-June, their aircrews have flown 572 missions and made 535 drops on wildfires in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming, according to the release. These aircraft are assigned to Air National Guard units in California, North Carolina, and Wyoming, and an Air Force Reserve Command wing in Colorado. The MAFFS-equipped C-130s drop water or fire retardant on fires.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.