The California Air National Guard has deployed General Atomics-built MQ-9 unmanned aircraft systems to help the state’s Department of Forestry and Fire Protection conduct mapping operations in Northern California.
General Atomics said Monday MQ-9 is equipped with an intelligence and reconnaissance sensor suite that works to help firefighters on the ground obtain situational awareness data they need plan strategies and place resources to contain fires.
Brig. Gen. Dana Hessheimer, commander of California ANG’s 163d Attack Wing, said the response team have mapped 77,000 acres and identified more than 1,300 structures during two firefighting missions.
Hessheimer added that 163d Attack Wing received permission from the Defense Department and the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct those missions.
General Atomics equipped its MQ-9 platform with an electro-optical/infrared camera, a Lynx multimode radar and a Synthetic Aperture Radar designed to help the system operate through clouds and fog.
The company’s aeronautical systems unit also helps CAL FIRE and San Diego’s fire rescue department to integrate data into firefighting operations.