U.S. Air Force 137th Special Operations Wing MC-12W Aircraft

Airman assigned to the 137th Special Operations Wing launch a U.S. Air Force MC-12W aircraft at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City, Mar. 25, 2019. The 137th Special Operations Wing’s MC-12W mission is to provide light tactical manned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance to US Special Operations Command. This unique aircraft enhances US Special Operations Command’s capability to project US military presence worldwide. The wing also boasts unique capabilities supporting US Air Force’s Air Mobility Command with the 137 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron providing global medical airlift for America’s injured or wounded; and Air Combat Command with the 146th Air Support Operations Squadron providing Tactical Air Control Parties to various US Army Infantry Brigade Combat Teams.

U.S. Air Force 137th Special Operations Wing MC-12W Aircraft
U.S. Air Force 137th Special Operations Wing MC-12W Aircraft

The MC-12W is a medium-to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Its primary mission is providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance 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 350ER. A fully operational system consists of a modified aircraft with mission system suit, electro-optical infrared sensors, line-of-sight and satellite communications datalinks, along with a robust voice communications suite.
U.S. Air Force 137th Special Operations Wing MC-12W Aircraft
U.S. Air Force 137th Special Operations Wing MC-12W Aircraft

A U.S. Air Force variant of the plane for surveillance roles primarily over Afghanistan and Iraq was the MC-12W Liberty. 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 the C-12 class aircraft to augment unmanned systems. Of note, it was less than eight months from funding approval to delivery in the theater.
U.S. Air Force 137th Special Operations Wing MC-12W Aircraft
U.S. Air Force 137th Special Operations Wing MC-12W Aircraft

The MC-12W 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-12W arrived at Key Field in Meridian, Mississippi, April 28, 2009. The first MC-12W flew its first combat support sortie on June 12, 2009. The fleet of 13 aircraft later transferred to the 137th Air Wing, Oklahoma Air National Guard, and arrived at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base July 10, 2015. The aircraft flew 400,000 combat hours in 79,000 combat sorties, aiding in the kill or capture of “more than 8,000 terrorists” and uncovering 650 weapons caches.
U.S. Air Force 137th Special Operations Wing MC-12W Aircraft
U.S. Air Force 137th Special Operations Wing MC-12W Aircraft

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