Lockheed Martin has successfully demonstrated how its unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations can extinguish fires by dropping 24,000 pounds of water on hot spots identified by its Indago quad rotor.
The agency used its prototype UAS Traffic Management (UTM) capabilities during the demonstrations in which the Stalker XE UAS provided data and a precise geolocation to the unmanned K-MAX cargo helicopter, which then conducted water drops to extinguish a fire, while the UTM tracked the UAS operations and communicated with Air Traffic Control in real time
“This demonstration represents the path forward for flying UAS in the NAS using Flight Service-based UTM capabilities to extend the technology and systems that air traffic controllers know and understand,” says Paul Engola, Vice President, Transportation & Financial Solutions. “We were able to successfully modify the existing K-MAX and Stalker XE ground control software to connect to the UTM services and conduct the firefighting mission.”
For the past 80 years, humans have needed an aircraft to support firefighting missions during daylight hours. Since unmanned K-MAX can fly day and night, in all weather, its insertion into firefighting operations offers the potential to triple the amount of time ground firefighters can receive aerial support.
The Stalker XE UAS worked with K-MAX to identify hot spots and fire intensity using its electro-optical, infrared camera which can be used at any time of day. The Stalker XE is powered by a solid oxide fuel cell and can fly for over eight hours at a time.