Airmen from the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing geared up for the upcoming wildfire season by practicing water drops with their Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped C-130s and coordination with US Forest Service aircraft, according to a unit release. “The airmen of this wing are passionate about this mission, protecting and defending our local communities, the great state of California, and the United States as a whole,” said Col. David Bakos, commander of the wing, which operates from Channel Islands ANG Station. During the six-day training event in mid-April, the C-130s integrated with Forest Service King Air and Cal Fire OV-10 spotter aircraft, drenching simulated fires in the nearby Angeles National Forest, according to the wing’s April 16 release. Some 100 firefighting personnel took part in the air and ground training. California Governor Jerry Brown (D) in January declared a drought state of emergency. The severe drought brings heightened wildfire risk. Over the weekend, wildfires raged near Corona and Norco, southeast of Los Angeles.
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.