Thursday, December 31, 2009

First US Air Force MC-12 Arrives at Bagram Airfield

Airmen welcomed the first Air Force MC-12 to be based in Afghanistan Dec. 27, 2009. The aircraft brings another capability to Operation Enduring Freedom, because the MC-12 is not just an aircraft, but a complete collection, processing, analysis and dissemination system of Airmen committed to securing Afghanistan and protecting Afghan and coalition lives. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Felicia Juenke)

by Tech. Sgt. John Jung

The newest aircraft to the Air Force's inventory arrived Dec. 27, 2009, to Bagram Airfield. The MC-12 aircraft, tail number 090623, was the first of an undisclosed number of aircraft for the new 4th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron here.Following the MC-12's arrival, the 4th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron was activated to carry out MC-12 operations in the Afghan theater of operations. Col. Patrick McKenzie, the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group commander, presided over the brief ceremony attended by approximately one hundred Airmen and Soldiers.

"The MC-12 is much more than just a fleet of aircraft, its pilots and maintainers. It also consists of equipment and personnel that collect and broadcast full-motion video and signals intelligence, as well as crews that process, exploit and disseminate the information," Colonel McKenzie said. "In addition, the MC-12 encompasses a host of communications experts that support and maintain the added capability that the aircraft brings to the warfighter."

Taking the reins of the 4th ERS was Lt. Col. Douglas Lee, deployed from Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., and a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala. "As a boy growing up in the Air Force, I could only imagine this day and for this opportunity to come along - [serving] in combat is why we raise our right hand to begin with," he said. "Knowledge is power and that is what we provide. This knowledge will help protect Afghans, provide security and protect Coalition lives. All of these things directly contribute to the combined effort that secures the battlespace and helps the Afghan people to defeat the insurgency."

As the demand for Air Force ISR increases assets, the MC-12 is positioned to meet that demand.The first of its kind for the Air Force in Afghanistan, the MC-12 provides real-time ISR in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. The aircraft bring another capability to Operation Enduring Freedom because the MC-12 is not just an aircraft, but a complete collection, processing, analysis and dissemination system of Airmen committed to securing Afghanistan and protecting Afghan and coalition lives.

Eighteen months ago, 'Project Liberty' was on the drawing board. Today, the aircraft and its crews and maintainers supporting the 4th ERS are operational and ready to go at Bagram Airfield."We are not the first to provide ISR, but we hope to enhance the joint effort through synergy with our sister services," Colonel Lee said.Overall, the MC-12 will augment information gathered by other ISR assets already operating in Afghanistan and complement existing capability. The platform will enhance how Air Force ISR complements the total intelligence 'picture' in the respective commander's scheme of maneuver in the battlespace. With a unique mission to execute, members of the 4th ERS are eager to "look for trouble," as their squadron motto states, but hope to see it first so U.S. and coalition ground forces can avoid it.

The MC-12W is a medium- to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft. The primary mission is providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, support directly to ground forces. The MC-12W is a joint forces air component commander asset in support of the joint force commander.

The MC-12W is not just an aircraft, but a complete collection, processing, analysis and dissemination system. The aircraft are military versions of the Hawker Beechcraft Super King Air 350 and Super King 350ER. A fully operational system consists of a modified aircraft with sensors, a ground exploitation cell, line-of-sight and satellite communications datalinks, along with a robust voice communications suite.

The aircraft is equipped with an electro-optical infrared sensor and other sensors as the mission requires. The EO/IR sensor also includes a laser illuminator and designator in a single sensor package. The MC-12 system is capable of worldwide operations.

The "M" is the Department of Defense designation for a multi-role version of the well known C-12 series. In April 2008, the Secretary of Defense established a DOD-wide ISR Task Force to identify and recommend solutions for increased ISR in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. On July 1, 2008, the Secretary of Defense tasked the Air Force to acquire 37 "C-12" class aircraft to augment unmanned systems. Of note, it was less than eight months from funding approval to delivery in the theater.

The MC-12 capability supports all aspects of the Air Force Irregular Warfare mission (counter insurgency, foreign internal defense and building partnership capacity). Medium- to low-altitude ISR is a core mission for the Air Force. The first MC-12 arrived at Key Field in Meridian, Miss., April 28, 2009. The first MC-12W flew its first combat support sortie on June 12, 2009.

General Characteristics
Primary function: Intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
Contractor: L-3 Communications
Power plant: Pratt & Whitney PT6A-60A
Wingspan: 57 feet, 11 inches ( 17.65 meters)
Length: 46 feet, 8 inches (14.22 meters)
Height: 14 feet, 4 inches (4.37 meters)
Weight: 12,500 pounds empty (5,669 kilograms)
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 350, 15,000 pounds; 350ER, 16,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 350, 3,611 pounds (1,638 kilograms); 350ER, 5,192 pounds (2,355 kilograms)
Speed: 312 knots
Range: 350, 1,500 nautical miles; 350ER, approximately 2,400 nautical miles
Ceiling: 35,000 feet (10,668 meters)
Armament: none
Crew: Two pilots and two sensor operators
Initial operating capability: June 2009
Unit cost: $17 million (aircraft and all communications equipment modifications)
Inventory: Active force, 37 (planned); Reserve, 0; ANG, 0   MC-12


And now, this site too has turned into an "American toys FTW!"-propagandasite. Signing off.

So what you suggest that news about American systems in the region shouldn’t be posted?

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