Aero Union System for Conversion of Airlifters
Reports in Buenos Aires indicate that Defence Minister Julio Martínez and Minister for Ambient and Sustainable Development, Sergio Bergman, are close to finalising plans to acquire an aerial firefighting capability, as embodied in the national Fire Handling Plan.
The Modular Airborne Firefighting System (MAFFS), developed by Aero Union of Chico, CA/USA, is an ingenious solution, offering the economic possibility to convert medium transport airlifters, such as the C-130 HERCULES, into aerial firefighting tanker aircraft. Conversion to the new role, with an 11,000l tanking capacity, can be achieved within a few hours.
As well as the US Air Force, Brazil already operates the MAFFS system and Chile is procuring two conversion kits. There are no current indications as to the quantity Argentina may elect to acquire, though the Air Force operates a fleet of five HERCULES, recently modernised in a $155 million programme.