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Military aircrews continue California wildfire suppression support

by Staff Sgt. Luke Johnson
302nd Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

7/14/2008 - SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AFPN) -- Airmen from the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group began their 18th day of aerial firefighting support missions July 12 in a coordinated effort to control wildfires in California.

The Airmen and their military airborne assets performed 26 air drops delivering more than 67,200 gallons of fire retardant and water. Overall, the 302nd AEG has performed 985 air drops and delivered nearly 1.35 million gallons of fire retardant and water since June 26.

C-130 aircrews performed 10 air drops on the Motion fire located within the Shasta Complex in northern California's Shasta and Trinity counties. They delivered about 28,000 gallons of fire retardant. They also performed 16 air drops on the Basin fire located within the Los Padres National Forest, southeast of Big Sur -- delivering about 44,800 gallons of fire retardant.

The 302nd AEG is made up of eight Air Force Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems-equipped C-130 aircraft and six Marine Corps helicopters operating out of McClellan Airfield, Calif. and two Navy Reserve helicopters operating out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.

The 302nd AEG C-130 aircraft units include three Air National Guard units - the 145th Airlift Wing from Charlotte, N.C., the 146th Airlift Wing from Channel Islands, Calif., and the 153rd Airlift Wing from Cheyenne, Wyo., and one Air Force Reserve unit -- the 302nd Airlift Wing from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

Three Marine helicopter units -- Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron (HMMT) 164 and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 268, both based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 465 based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego -- fly CH-46E Sea Knight and CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopters equipped with specialized fire fighting buckets.

U.S. Navy Reserve helicopters flying at NAS Lemoore are assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Support Squadron (HSC) 85 based out of Naval Air Station North Island, Calif. The squadron is flying MH-60 Knighthawk helicopters with 420- and 360-gallon specialized fire fighting buckets.

The 302nd AEG provides unique capabilities and is part of a unified military support effort of U.S. Northern Command to provide assistance to the U.S. Forest Service, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and the National Interagency Fire Center.

Fire information is current as July 13.



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