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C-130s continue aerial firefighting operations in California

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

7/9/2008 - SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AFPN) -- Aircraft from the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group continued aerial firefighting support missions July 5 in a coordinated effort to control wildfires in California. 

C-130 Hercules aircraft flew 25 sorties in approximately 50 flight hours. Twelve sorties flew to the Goleta, or Gap, fire located approximately six miles northwest of Santa Barbara and delivered approximately 33,000 gallons of fire retardant.  Seven sorties flew to the Piute fire located in the Sequoia National Forest fire, delivering more than 19,500 gallons of retardant. 

Finally, six sorties were flown to the Shasta Humbolt Complex located in northern California's Shasta and Trinity counties, delivering approximately 16,800 gallons of fire retardant. 

The California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing moved critical reloading supplies to the Channel Islands Air National Guard Station July 4 to increase modular airborne firefighting system-equipped C-130 efficiency in battling the fires in southern California, according to Tom Hoffman, the military liaison officer with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. 

For the C-130 aircraft operating out McClellan Airfield, Calif., but covering the fires in southern California, crews will reload fire retardant at Channel Islands ANGS in order to save time traveling to the Gap and Piute fires. The aircraft will then return to McClellan airfield at the end of the flying day for maintenance and the next day's launch. 

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

The 302nd AEG comprises eight Air Force MAFFS-capable C-130 aircraft operating out of McClellan Airfield, and Navy Reserve and Marine Corps helicopter units operating out of Naval Air Station Lemoore, Calif.

Three Marine helicopter units -- Medium Helicopter Training Squadron 164 and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 268 based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 465 based out of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in San Diego -- fly CH-46 Sea Knight and CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters equipped with 2,000-gallon specialized fire fighting buckets.

U.S. Navy Reserve helicopters flying from NAS Lemoore are assigned to the Helicopter Sea Combat Support Squadron 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 military airborne assets flew a total of 55 missions July 4 and have flown approximately 270 missions and dropped nearly 600,000 gallons of fire retardant since June 26.

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, CAL FIRE and the National Interagency Fire Center.

USNORTHCOM continues to closely monitor the California wildfires to anticipate additional requests for Department of Defense assistance to local, federal, and state civil authorities and will launch as many missions as officials require to battle the wildfires.

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