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Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF)



OBJECTIVE: An autonomous system to identify, assess, respond to, and suppress or extinguish an aircraft fire within 10 miles of the stationed unit and conduct rescue. 

DESCRIPTION: Unmanned and autonomous systems technology has burgeoned for more than a decade, outpacing methods to apply the capabilities to applicable problems. Technology is sought that autonomously gathers and processes information from various sources and sensors to identify an aircraft fire, communicate with other aircraft traffic and initially respond to an aircraft fire autonomously. During an event, the system will notify emergency services, deploy and using the Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management System (UTM) or similar system navigate through military and civilian airspace to an aircraft fire while carrying the means to suppress or extinguish a 50-MW fire and conduct a basic rescue mission on conscious personnel. The minimum payload the system should be able to carry is 1 metric ton to successfully perform the firefighting and rescue mission. Relevant state-of-the-art robotic firefighting technology ranges from tethered drones to heavy lift semi-autonomous aircraft. Solutions are sought that provide a semi-autonomous, non-tethered response to aircraft fire events in the vicinity of airbases and airfields. The solution should be able to operate close to a 50-MW fire without degradation. The system should be able to stay on station for the minimum estimated response time of the local emergency services. A highly desirable feature would be ability to map the trajectory of an aircraft making a mayday call to estimate point and time of impact, to allow an extinguishment response before the fire has developed. The same constraints on toxicity, environmental persistence, etc. apply as to AFFF replacements. 

PHASE I: Use small-scale, virtual or modeling & simulation testing & evaluation to identify possible solutions and develop initial software for fire and emergency identification and communication with emergency services. Demonstrate detection & control functions with a small drone. Justify the choice of extinguishant. 

PHASE II: Assemble a prototype system for field demonstration in a relevant operating environment selected with service input. After the demo deliver the system to the Government for end-user evaluation. The prototype must autonomously deploy and navigate to an aircraft fire while communicating relevant information to aircraft control systems. 

PHASE III: Final product will find a market in civilian and private aviation, firefighting and emergency management areas. 


1. FAA Circular 150/5200-31C- Airport Emergency Plan (Consolidated AC includes Change 2) June 19, 2009; 2. NFPA 403 Standard for Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting Services at Airports, 2018; 3. Stalker and K-MAX talk to air traffic control to safely operate while detecting and dousing fires, 7 DEC 2015,

KEYWORDS: Aircraft Rescue And Firefighting (ARFF), Autonomous, Drone, Extraction 

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