In 1996, the U.S. Army retired 25 of its Cobra combat attack helicopters.
Video from Wildfire Event on the Klamath River
If you read this blog regularly during the Basin Complex Fire, you may remember that we spoke about the Bell Cobra Helicopter, based in King City, outfitted with InfraRed instrumentation and from high altitude, used to search for "hot spots" in the fire zone.
The Forest Service got them, refitted them with a bunch of useful things and called them "Firewatch" helicopters.
High-flying and fast, their purpose is to relay information about the direction and strength of a fire to ground crews and to help larger planes make accurate water or fire-retardant drop by providing precise GPS coordinates.
Also on board is an infrared thermal imager capable of detecting the heat of a wildfire through thick smoke (see video, above). Its low-light and color cameras can pick up fine resolution images of the fire, and then its transmission equipment can send those images—in real time—to firefighting crews up to 30 miles away.