A Lockheed C-130M Hercules from the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB; Brazilian Air Force) has been dispatched to Chile to help fight the more than 300 estimated forest fires that are currently raging across the country’s central and southern regions.
The aircraft (serial FAB 2472) – assigned to the FAB’s Primeiro Esquadrão do Primeiro Grupo de Transporte (1°/1° GT; 1st Squadron of the 1st Transport Group) ‘Esquadrão Gordo’ – departed Base Aérea de Galeão in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro for Concepción, Chile, on February 9. This deployment comes after the Presidency of the Brazilian Republic authorised the delivery of humanitarian aid to Chile on February 8, with the operation being coordinated by Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Brazilian Cooperation Agency, Ministry of Defence and Air Force.
When the C-130M deployed to Chile, it had been estimated that over 300 wildfires were raging across the central and southern regions of Chile, resulting in more than 40,000 hectares of land being burned, with a further 270,000 hectares being compromised. These fires have so far resulted in at least 26 deaths and 1,200 injuries, with 1,100 homes being destroyed and 3,000 people being left homeless.
The deployed C-130M is equipped with a Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) and has the capacity to transport and drop 12,000 litres of water. This equipment weighs 1,697lb (770kg) and is delivered over areas affected by wildfires via two tubes that project water through the aircraft’s rear ramp. Such deliveries are carried out at an approximate altitude of 150ft (46m).
On February 11, the C-130M carried out its first aerial firefighting mission over Chile, helping to combat the fires that hit the city of Concepción. That day, the aircraft completed five sorties, during which 60,000 litres of water was released. The deployment is expected to last for approximately two weeks.