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From Power Grids to Pipelines. Keeping Communities Safe

Missions & Applications

Power grids and pipelines span tens of thousands of kilometers. Keeping a close eye on these huge networks is a daunting, time-consuming task that can lead to missed problems – and potential disasters. Companies unable to keep up with monitoring end up reacting to existing problems instead of proactively preventing them.

The result is interrupted delivery, customer dissatisfaction and lost revenue. In some cases, not catching faults before they fail can have much more dire consequences – keeping networks safe and reliable is the only way to prevent disaster.

The National Grid in the UK wanted to be that proactive energy provider, spotting issues in their 14,0002 km electricity grid before they became problems, and keeping lines safe and fully operational. To do that they outfitted two Bell 429 helicopters with a moving map system preloaded with the grid’s database of all power lines and towers across the UK – and a WESCAM MX-10 EO/IR surveillance system.  The moving map and MX-10 are seamlessly integrated to give operators true situational awareness across the grid.

UK Electricity Pipeline

Covering more grid in less time

In their pre-helicopter days, it would take three workers a full day to inspect three towers – a slow, laborious task. Now one helicopter operator can check six towers in less than an hour – the WESCAM MX-10 automatically locks on to a tower, allowing the operator to look for faults, then move on to the next one. Inspection time is dramatically reduced and efficiency is way up.

The WESCAM MX-10’s high-res capabilities offer greatly enhanced visibility into potential issues. Infrared sensors quickly identify hotspots in power transmission lines before failure can occur, and quickly survey rising thermal signatures in real-time.

“WESCAM’s HD IR technology isn’t just a great solution for inspecting power grids and utilities, it’s also an excellent option for other large-scale industrial inspections,” says Paul Jennison, L3 WESCAM’s VP of Government Sales and Business Development. “The powerful optics can help locate leaks and blockages in buried pipelines, which adds tremendous efficiency to inspection time, not to mention a substantial potential savings to an organization’s bottom line.”

Want to read more? Learn how the U.S. Air Force saved $1.7B between 2012 and 2016 by using simulators in place of live training flights.

L3 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 and Instagram at wescamisr. 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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