Textron Aviation has delivered two Beechcraft King Air 260 aircraft to the US Forest Service, with the aircraft intended to perform wildfire mapping missions.

“We are honoured the US Forest Service has added the King Air 260 to its fleet,” said Bob Gibbs, vice president, Special Mission Sales for Textron Aviation.

“Whether for the wildfire detection and mapping, resource management, aerial supervision module/lead plane or air attack, the King Air continues to demonstrate its leadership in this mission. Customer faith in our legendary products and trust in our company and our team are at the core of our enduring relationship with US Forest Service.”

Latest infrared sensing technology

The King Air 260 aircraft have been modified for the installation of the latest infrared (IR) sensing technology, the Overwatch Imaging TK-9 Earthwatch Airborne Sensor, along with legacy US Forest Service sensors, that can accurately map wildfires, even at night and through smoke. This information is critical for firefighters to have when the exact extent of a fire is not known due to darkness, smoke, size of the fire, rapid spread, or complex terrain.

IR mapping aircraft can also be used to detect new fires started by lightning when they are very small.

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