Rosen, Barrasso Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Allocate Better Fire Fighting Aircraft to Western States

This Change Will Make Nevada Air National Guard More Likely To Receive Newer, More Capable Fire Fighting Aircraft

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and John Barrasso (R-WY) have introduced the Modernizing Aerial Fire Fighting Support (MAFFS) for the National Guard Act, bipartisan legislation that would require the U.S. Air Force to include the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) mission as part of their criteria for how to allocate the C-130J aircraft. This criteria change would make it more likely for the Air National Guard in Nevada and Wyoming, which have MAFFS missions, to be selected by the U.S. Air Force to upgrade their aging C-130H fleets with more capable C-130Js, which would have a substantial impact on their readiness and firefighting capabilities in Nevada, Wyoming, and throughout the western United States. 

“Western states like Nevada are facing more severe and frequent wildfires, forcing the Nevada Air National Guard to fly in some of the hottest temperatures, highest elevations, and most challenging mountainous environments in the country,” said Senator Rosen. “I’m introducing this bipartisan legislation to make it more likely for the Nevada Air National Guard to receive the aircraft they need to battle ever-worsening wildfires out West.”

“With the ongoing threat of wildfires across the Rocky Mountain West, having access to C-130J aircraft in Wyoming is more critical than ever,” said Senator Barrasso. “The C-130J air tanker is one of the best tools we have to quickly and efficiently suppress wildfires. Our bipartisan legislation will require the Air Force to use the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System mission as a C-130J basing requirement. By expanding access to this vital air tanker, we ensure Wyoming and other western states have every advantage possible when fighting wildfires.”

“For years, we’ve sought an upgrade in our aging C-130 fleet at the Nevada Air National Guard Base in Reno to provide Airmen with the most capable airframe to conduct missions — especially the unit’s firefighting mission in support of the U.S. Forest Service,” said Major General Ondra Berry, Nevada Adjutant General. “The Nevada Air National Guard was named as the newest MAFFS unit in 2016, flying low and slow over treacherous terrain and dangerous wildland fires. If any unit is in need of the most capable airframes, it’s the Nevada Air National Guard, with its C-130 unit centrally located in Reno near the majority of these conflagrations that have increasingly plagued western states in recent years.”

Senator Rosen has been leading the charge to secure C-130J aircraft for the Nevada Air National Guard for more than two years. She helped send a letter to then-Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett requesting eight new C-130J aircraft for the Nevada Air National Guard Base in Reno. Last year, Senator Rosen secured commitments from the Air Force’s Acting Secretary John Roth and General Charles Q. Brown, Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force, to consider upgrading the Nevada Air National Guard’s C-130H fleet with C-130Js. And this past May, she secured a commitment from Air Force leadership that the MAFFS mission would be part of the criteria for the next round of C-130J basing.