HomeNewsArticle Display

California ANG deploys Predator to support firefighters

An MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft prepares for takeoff in support of operations in Southwest Asia. Air Force officials announced Eglin Air Force Base complex in Florida as a candidate for an Air Force Reserve Command MQ-1 Remote Split-Operations squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Julianne Showalter)

An MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft prepares for takeoff in support of operations in Southwest Asia. Air Force officials announced Eglin Air Force Base complex in Florida as a candidate for an Air Force Reserve Command MQ-1 Remote Split-Operations squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Julianne Showalter)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) --

With wildfires continuing to rage around Yosemite National Park, the California National Guard has deployed a remotely piloted aircraft that improves the incident commander’s ability to monitor conditions on the ground.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel approved the use of an MQ-1 Predator to support firefighters battling the Rim Fire that has expanded to more than 160,000 acres, Air Force Lt. Col. Thomas Keegan, California National Guard public affairs officer, reported.

The California Air National Guard’s 163rd Reconnaissance Wing deployed the Predator yesterday, and it is being flown in direct support of the incident commander under the command and control of Army Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, California’s adjutant general, Keegan said.

The aircraft, flying from the Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville for up to 22 hours without landing, will capture and deliver real-time 24/7 information on remote portions of the wildfire.

“The impact of this will be significant,” Keegan said. “It will identify where fire activity is located and how it is moving, as well as where it has been controlled.”

The aircraft also will identify safe routes of retreat for firefighters on the scene and verify new fire created by lightning strikes or floating embers. This, Keegan explained, will help the incident commander stay on top of the changing situation on the ground and make the best use of available resources.

Keegan emphasized that the images will be used only to support firefighting operations.

The aircraft’s pilots, located at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif., will remain in constant contact with Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers from takeoff to landing and fly over unpopulated areas whenever possible, he said. The flight path generally will be limited to 30 nautical miles of the Rim Fire area, and whenever it flies outside the restricted airspace for the fire, a manned plane will escort it.

Meanwhile, nearly a dozen aircraft and crews from the California Air and Army National Guard are battling wildfires across Northern California.

California Army Guard helicopter crews and California Air Guard air tanker crews are working in coordination with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and U.S. Forest Service firefighting crews to battle the American, Swedes and Rim fires, Keegan reported.

In addition to two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters supporting operations at the Rim Fire, three Black Hawks are battling the American Fire and two Black Hawks and one CH-47 Chinook helicopter are flying in support of the Swedes Fire, Keegan said.

Another Black Hawk -- with a specialized crew and a hoist for extracting injured personnel from rugged terrain -- is staged in Redding, Calif., on call for medical evacuation support throughout Northern California.

At the Rim Fire alone, the helicopter crews have completed 905 drops, releasing more than 450,000 gallons of water and fire retardant since the crews were activated Aug. 17, Keegan said.

In addition, Air National Guard crews are using two C-130J Hercules air tankers to fight the Rim Fire. Both aircraft are equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems II and are capable of discharging 3,000 gallons of water or retardant in less than five seconds. Since their activation Aug. 13, the air tankers have completed 122 drops, releasing more than 333,000 gallons of retardant, Keegan said.

“In times of crisis, it is imperative we pull together as a united front against the threat of wildfires in our state,” Baldwin said, noting that the California Guard regularly trains for the mission.

“Working together in a climate of cooperation with (state officials), our soldiers and Airmen are committed to preserving the lives and property of our neighbors who are threatened by this emergency,” he said.

The Rim Fire is not the first in which California has used remotely piloted aircraft technology to support firefighting. In 2007, NASA piloted a similar unmanned aircraft in response to a request from the California Office of Emergency Services and the National Interagency Fire Center.

Those flights were conducted during daytime hours, complemented by nighttime imaging flights from NIFC’s Cessna Citation and an Air Force Global Hawk, both equipped with an earlier-generation infrared camera. Pilots in a ground control station at NASA Dryden controlled the flights via satellite links.

NASA conducted additional remotely piloted aircraft missions in 2008, to monitor wildfires in Southern California, and in 2009, to assess fire damage in Angeles National Forest.

The current mission, officials said, is the longest sustained mission by an unmanned aircraft in California in support of firefighters.

Engage

Twitter
.@cmsaf_official on leading in a time of change during the 2021 Virtual Aerospace Warfare Symposium. #vAWS2021https://t.co/Khyl8fufNX
Twitter
RT @cmsaf_official: Ummm, okay. 🤨 This is exactly the kind of stuff we’ve got to get after, folks. Design implementation matters. Make…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Terrific call today with my @TheRSAF counterpart Maj. Gen. Kelvin Khong. Singapore is one of our strongest bilateral part…
Twitter
RT @SpaceForceDoD: @SpaceForceCSO Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond and Astrophysicist @neiltyson will engage in a fireside chat today at 10 a.m.…
Twitter
#SEAC4 Ramón "CZ" Colón-López, @cmsaf_official JoAnne Bass & CMSgt of @SpaceForceDoD Roger A. Towberman discuss lea… https://t.co/llhvCm6MIv
Twitter
.@GenCQBrownJr discussed "Accelerate Change or Lose" during a fireside chat with @MEaglen at the 2021 Virtual Aeros… https://t.co/22jfLvySOE
Twitter
.@GenCQBrownJr discusses how the #USAF is working to #AccelerateChange at the 2021 Virtual Aerospace Warfare Sympos… https://t.co/sW3megZoiS
Twitter
RT @SpaceForceDoD: Don't miss @SpaceForceCSO Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond's fireside chat with @neiltyson Feb. 25 at 10 a.m. EST during #vAWS
Twitter
RT @PACAF: #DYK: We have a program designed to reduce risk to aircrews/aircraft & surrounding community by reducing the risk of bird strike…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting SecAF Roth & @GenCQBrownJr flew on a #KC46 with @AirMobilityCmd #Airmen this week to learn more about the @USAirF
Twitter
Join @GenCQBrownJr's fireside chat with @MEaglen on accelerating change in the #USAF at 10 AM EST.… https://t.co/NYUfzC4B9d
Twitter
Join @cmsaf_official JoAnne Bass, Chief Master Sergeant of @SpaceForceDoD Roger Towberman and @thejointstaff #SEAC4https://t.co/kne8oL31kX
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: I recently visited several bases and saw how empowered, multi-capable #Airmen are driving the common sense changes requir…
Twitter
RT @AirForceAssoc: Tune in today at 0900 EST for #vAWS2021! https://t.co/3znoc5LrXF
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Well done to all who had a role in this test launch and for keeping the Nation's strategic deterrent force #AlwaysReady!…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,329,661
Follow Us