Drug Program RC-26s Aid Firefighting:

The California Air National Guard’s 144th Fighter Wing at Fresno has been flying two four-hour missions daily in RC-26 ISR aircraft to assist firefighters battling southern California blazes. The Air Guard has a total of 11 RC-26 Metroliners, which come equipped with television, infrared imaging, photo, video recorders, laser range finder, spotter scope, video downlink, and enhanced communications equipment. They’ve been used primarily to support counterdrug operations, but SSgt. Jim Greenhill and Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Rotherham report that they’ve also flown missions in Iraq and supported other fire control efforts. In California, the RC-26 has sent real-time imagery to fire managers at command locations, enabling them to pinpoint hot spots and direct crew support quickly. The images also go to the Joint Operations Center in Sacramento, US Northern Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va.