Sep 9, 2014

USAF ends four years of MC-12W ops in southern Afghanistan

The US Air Force (USAF) has withdrawn its Beechcraft MC-12W Liberty special mission aircraft from southern Afghanistan after four years in theatre.
The final mission of the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft was flown out of Kandahar Airfield (KAF) by the 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron (ERS) "at the beginning of September".
Since deploying to KAF in May 2010, the 361st ERS has flown 25,000 sorties over 115,000 hours, contributing to the "elimination" of 450 insurgents, the USAF said. The aircraft had also achieved a 99% mission readiness rate throughout operations.
With the end of the 361st ERS' mission in southern Afghanistan, the MC-12W remains in operation with the 4th ERS operating out of Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul. The USAF has not disclosed precisely how many aircraft have been deployed to theatre.
Built around the King Air 350ER twin-turboprop, the MC-12W is manned by a flight crew of two, a sensor operator, and what the USAF calls a 'cryptologic operator'. Imagery analysts in the ground-based ISR exploitation cell then interpret and use the information gathered.
The platform has a more than eight hours' endurance, and taking-off at gross weight with full fuel and payload can fly out to 100 n miles, perform a low-altitude surveillance mission for seven hours 20 minutes, and fly back 100 n miles (landing with more than 45 minutes of fuel on board).

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