An MQ-9 Predator B over Southern California. Courtesy General Atomics

The California Air National Guard is now using a General Atomics Predator drone to assist Cal Fire with firefighting operations in Southern California, the San Diego company announced Monday.

The guard’s 163rd Attack Wing based at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside provides aerial reconnaissance using MQ-9 Predator B aircraft upon request by Cal Fire.

The aircraft use synthetic aperture radar to detect fire lines even through smoke-filled skies, and send back real-time, high-definition video using infrared cameras.

Drones can be deployed throughout Southern and Central California, and can land at both U.S. Air Force and General Atomics facilities if necessary because of weather conditions.

“Providing support for natural disasters is just one more way to utilize our aircraft,” said Linden Blue, CEO of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems. “GA-ASI is always pleased to know our products can and will assist when these kinds of situations occur.”

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.