Covering the Homeland: National Guard Unmanned Aircraft Systems Support for Wildland Firefighting and Natural Disaster Events [open pdf - 477KB]
"Over the past decade, the United States Government has had to cope with increasingly severe large-scale natural disasters. The 2004 hurricane season alone caused 167 deaths and an estimated $46 billion in damages. The following year, Hurricane Katrina took 1,330 lives and caused an estimated $96 billion in damages. The 2007 fire season saw over 85,000 wildland fires consume more than 9.3 million acres. In Southern California alone, wildfires forced over half a million people to evacuate their homes, destroyed over 3,079 structures, and caused over $1.8 billion in damages. This thesis examines the possible nontraditional and creative use of unmanned aircraft systems to mitigate the threat and effects of natural disasters, assist with search and rescue, and aid post disaster recovery efforts. This work investigates the use of National Guard unmanned aircraft systems to provide lead agencies support prior to, during, and following major disaster incidents. The thesis also explores the benefits and challenges to setting up National Guard units operating unmanned aircraft systems within the United States equipped with specialized sensors in a similar fashion to the National Guard modular airborne firefighting system, and offers subjects for follow on research."
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