Lockheed tests firefighting unmanned aircraft

OWEGO, N.Y. - Lockheed Martin is proving additional capabilities for some of its unmanned aircraft to help in fighting major wildfires.

The company recently conducted a demonstration at Griffiss Field in Rome to show that it can fly both an unmanned K-MAX helicopter and pilot-less Stalker plane simultaneously while putting out a major fire.

The drill was also done with some other piloted aircraft in the vicinity and in conjunction with air traffic controllers.

Jon McMillen of Lockheed's Unmanned Systems Development said the aircraft can fly at night and through heavy smoke conditions.

"You can now change the paradigm and be fighting fires 24/7. And that 24 hours, being able to fight day and night, is something that can really change the game," said McMillen.

The K-MAX was also tested in a heavily forested area near Boise, Idaho earlier this year.

McMillen said the unmanned aircraft can save lives by delivering supplies to firefighters and rescuing them if they're in distress.

Lockheed hopes to sell the aircraft to the U.S. Department of Interior for fighting wildfires on federal land.


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