Like throwing a paper airplane, 20 Regiment Royal Australian Artillery Bombardier Jarrod Logan launches a Wasp AE unmanned aircraft from a paddock 20km south of Canberra to survey blazing scrub in the Orroral Valley.
CAPTION: Bombardier Jarrod Logan launches a Wasp AE to survey bushfires south of Canberra. Photo and story by Corporal Julia Whitwell.
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20 Regiment patrolled smoky skies earlier this month from 5am to 9am each morning while fire threatened nearby homes.
By 8am Captain Shaun Montgomery was relaying a situation report to the ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) planning team.
“MRH-90s, MH-60Rs and civilian aircraft were flying in the area all day from 9am and most of the night, but there was up to a seven-hour gap overnight when the fire wasn’t being monitored,” Captain Montgomery said.
“The first details of where the fire had spread overnight came from reports back from crews on the ground.
“We saw an opportunity to provide reconnaissance support and coordinated the airspace to enable operations during that early morning timeframe.”
Bombardier Logan said information from Wasp patrols helped ESA decide how to battle the fire.
“The Wasp AE is able to capture electro-optical and infra-red imagery of the scene below,” Bombardier Logan said.
“We’ve been able to provide some really good product to help ESA detect where the fire front is and decide how to best delegate their resources.”
He said the Wasp AE was normally used to assist with battlefield reconnaissance, so fire surveillance was a fitting use of the system.
“It’s great we’re able to use our unique skill set and equipment to help out in this time of need,” Bombardier Logan said.
“It feels pretty rewarding to make a difference in the community.”