King Air 260 Aircraft Join U.S Forest Service’s Fire Management Fleet

US Forest Service Kingair 260 parked in hangar
Photo Credit: Textron

LONDON – On 18 August, Textron Aviation announced that the U.S Forest Service has received two Beechcraft King Air 260 aircraft, to perform wildfire mapping and related missions. The Beechcraft King Air 260 is one of the ‘kingmakers’ for Textron’s aviation product line-up. 

Bob Gibbs, vice president, Special Mission Sales for Textron Aviation stressed the importance of the aircraft to the state agency: “Whether for the wildfire detection and mapping, resource management, aerial supervision module/lead plane or air attack, 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 U.S Forest Service.” 

Bob Gibbs also added: “We are honoured the U.S Forest Service has added the King Air 260 to its fleet. Whether for wildfire detection and mapping, resource management, aerial supervision module/lead plane or air attack, 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 U.S Forest Service.”

US Forest Service logo

The King Air 260 machine itself is one of general aviation’s beloved aircraft and has been significantly modified and revamped for the installation of the latest infrared (IR) and sensing technology, suitable for such missions.

To be specific, the Overwatch Imaging TK-9 Earthwatch Airborne Sensor, along with its legacy homegrown U.S Forest Service sensors which have the ability to map wildfires, are also night-time operations certified even through smoke. 

Above: Same fire, different story – Multispectral imagery from Overwatch Imaging’s TK-9 payload, featuring SWIR, NIR, VIsual, MWIR and LWIR sensor technology. Photo Credit: Overwatch

This ability is of utmost importance for ground staff like firefighters, as these aircraft are able to pinpoint the source of any fire, which is difficult for the ground staff as identifying them is difficult, and operating in these critical conditions is known to be dark, hot and dangerous.

Identifying the fire source is crucial as it is important to control the fire and contain the rapid spread. Thanks to the IR mapping capability installed on the aircraft will increase the chances of eradicating severe forest fires. 

Textron Aviation, being a large aviation manufacturer, has a department catering to government and military customers who are seeking airborne solutions for critical missions.

Textron is able to provide unique solutions to combat challenging missions, seen by the flexibility of its aircraft configurations, ranging from air ambulances (MEDEVAC, ISR, VIP, Utility Transport, Aerial Survey, Navigation Calibration, Law Enforcement, Fire Fighting, Flight Inspection and training for instance. These role-specific modifications permit efficiency at a low operating cost. 

With the two new King Air 260 joining the fleet protecting forests across the country, Textron is proud that it is playing a crucial part in safeguarding America’s natural resources.

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