An MQ-9 Reaper and other military assets have been key to California National Guard efforts to help combat raging fires in California, including one that is now the state’s largest ever, Guard officials said Wednesday. SSgt. James Brown, an incident and assessment awareness coordinator with the California Air National Guard and a former airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operator, said the MQ-9 is used to record videos that imagery analysts can relay to incident commanders. Using the videos, he said, analysts can see where the fires are in relation to burned out infrastructure, damaged homes or surrounding trees, and view it quickly. “With the Reaper, we are able to view the video feed in near-real time, so there’s a little bit of a delay, but not much,” said Brown, who was one of three Guardsmen who spoke with reporters by teleconference from California. “We are in direct contact with those imagery analysts that we have watching the video feed in near real time, so with that, they’re able to communicate via the video feed that they’re watching” where the fire is moving, he said. In addition to the MQ-9 and an RC-26 from New Mexico, specially equipped Guard and Reserve C-130s are dropping retardant on the fires, along with Army National Guard rotary wing assets. As of Wednesday, the Mendocino Complex Fire had burned almost 315,000 acres and was 65 percent contained. Fires across California have burned more than 760,000 acres this summer. —Steve Hirsch
Daily Report: Read the day's top news on the US Air Force, airpower, and national security issues.
Tweets by @AirForceMag