A Shoalhaven company is playing a pivotal role in the battle against the raging bushfires engulfing large parts of Australia's Eastern Seaboard.
High in the sky above the fires, a number of Nowra-based Learjet's have been undertaking numerous missions, using the latest technology to map the various fire paths.
For the past 25 years Nowra aviation company, Air Affairs Australia has been providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance imagery from a variety of fire events.
The ongoing drought and adverse forecast weather conditions has firefighting agencies across the country bracing for a dramatic increase in the severity and frequency of bushfires this year.
It has also seen a significant increase in demand for the wide area, tactical surveillance product the Firescan service delivers.
With customised Infrared Linescanners, Firescan captures line scan imagery of bushfire activity.
Imagery delivered during both day and night-time flight operations, provide imaging of the ground, clearly defining active fire and burnt terrain through dense smoke.
With many of these fastmoving bushfires, the need for rapid wide-area fire intelligence is logistically critical in supporting ground fire-fighting crews.
The service also allows for monitoring remote area bushfires.
Images are transmitted directly from the aircraft via satellite, to operation centres, for near real-time utilisation.
Air Affairs is currently operating aircraft over the fires in NSW, Victoria and Queensland, including the Currowan fire grounds in the Shoalhaven south of Ulladulla.
Air Affairs chief executive officer Chris Sievers said it was "personally inspiring to see the significant efforts crews and staff undertake every year to provide and deliver this important service in a challenging environment".
From humble beginnings involving one aircraft, Air Affairs Australia's capability has grown to become a truly national service, operating five dedicated aircraft from Nowra, adjacent to Royal Australian Navy base HMAS Albatross, under contract from the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC).
"We are proud to support our firefighting agency customers in their critically important efforts to protect life and property," Mr Sievers said.
"Firescan is an important part of our business, which we committed to 25 years ago with a vision of one day achieving a national and international service.
"The Air Affairs team was established using aerial bushfire surveillance experts which I am extremely proud of.
"We must now grow together with the fire agencies to meet evolving environmental challenges, to make certain we continue to contribute to the community that relies so much on us.
"We are committed to work with governments, both state and federal, to contribute our part of an evolving national aerial firefighting fleet."