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Fighting Fires on the Ground with Advanced Aerial Technology

Missions & Applications


According to NASA, which monitors forest fires around the world, there are close to 30,000 wildfires burning over 26 million hectares across the U.S. Hundreds of intense fires are blazing across Central Africa and Australia. And in the Amazon, which is experiencing its driest season in 14 years, they’re bracing for extensive damage.

These fires devastate more than forests. They displace people, impact animals, and destroy homes and communities. And the smoke they generate travels tremendous distances, degrading air quality and contributing to climate change.

Fighting fires in BC

The forest fires in British Columbia are taking a huge toll as well. According to the BC government, since April 2017, the province has had over 1,000 wildfires that have devastated more than a million hectares. Thousands have been displaced, homes lost, and the environmental cost has been steep.

Canadian disaster relief forces are doing everything they can to fight those fires, help communities – and save lives. As of early September, there are close to 4,000 firefighters battling blazes, and 189 aircraft supporting the crews on the ground. Among them are Canadian CH-147 helicopters with WESCAM MX-15 EO/IR systems, which incorporate multi-spectral large-aperture optics and long-range sensing capable of pinpointing survivors in smoky, low-light conditions.

The WESCAM-equipped aircraft can also map the direction fires will take, which helps first-responders on the ground with time-critical evacuations. Other missions include overseeing post-disaster cleanup efforts and calculating the perimeter and area of devastation.

MX-15 systems save lives

The Canadian and U.S. military also use the WESCAM MX-15 in other vital disaster response missions. Canadian Griffin helicopters outfitted with the system have been used in humanitarian relief operations including Manitoba’s Red River floods, ice storms in Eastern Canada, and United Nations efforts in Haiti.

Additionally, the California National Guard used WESCAM’s systems on their Lakota helicopters as part of a large-scale disaster preparation exercise. The system’s advanced EO/IR technology was used to pinpoint where relief was needed in affected areas, locate trapped people, and assess the aftermath of the devastation.

Find out more about our MX-15 as well as our newest advancements in EO/IR.

WESCAM technology provides defense agencies around the world the tools they need to protect the countries they serve. To find out more about our technology, check out or visit us on YouTube. You can also visit us on Twitter at L3WESCAM. If you are interested in talking with someone about how L3 WESCAM’s products and services can help improve your mission success please email us at




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