The Past Lives of the MC-12 Liberties

For some light reading this evening, you should check out the NYT piece below on the Air Force's fleet of MC-12 Liberty ISR turboprops. While you're not going to find out anything new about the MC-12 program itself, the anecdotes of the civilian life that one of the planes had before being purchased by the Air Force is  interesting.

As you know, the MC-12s were pressed into service as a kind of manned UAV extremely rapidly as a way of addressing the military's enormous need for airborne ISR in Iraq and Afghanistan. In many cases, the air service bought up civilian Beechcraft King Airs and converted them into spy planes rather than looking to buy new planes or take C-12s (the military designation for the King Air) from other commands.

Keep in mind that as the big Air Force was fielding the Liberties, Air Force Special Operations Command was leasing some Pilatus PC-12 turboprops and pressing them into service -- complete with civilian paint jobs -- as the U-28A. As far as I know, AFSOC now owns its fleet of U-28As outright. The single-engine planes are used as a low-profile way of flying air commandos to places where the locals wouldn't be too excited to see a U.S. Air Force C-130 on the ramp.

Here's the article.

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