Before talking about the MC-12W Liberty lets talk a little bit about the Beechcraft Super King Air which is an aircraft of turboprop twin engines. The aircraft is so well known in its design that this aircraft has been designed into many variants to be used by the US army’s divisions like Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.
There these aircraft have their own individual duties like the following.
- Embassy support
- Medical evacuation
- Passenger transport
- Light air cargo transport
In addition to this, many of the variants have been upgraded with the surveillance systems for the projects like the following.
- Crafty Lancer
- Project Liberty
When it comes to the Project Liberty, the variant has been given the designation as MC-12W Liberty. While the aircraft seems like an ordinary commuter aircraft at first, it is actually one of the military’s valuable aerial spying assets. The aircraft equipped with its state of the art sensor suite is able to get a clear tactical view of the battlefield to send the ground troops real-time ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) Support.
For our readers today, we have gathered a bunch of amazing facts about the MC-12W Liberty; the humble spy which are as follows.
The MC-12W is a slow aircraft that is unarmed and is one of the very few fixed-wing aircraft that are currently flown by the US Army. But this doesn’t mean that it is not important as it is as vital as a gunship. The aircraft’s project was initially started back in 2009 by the US Air Force but it was later snatched up by the US Army’ Special Operations Command and were alter deployed to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan. From years in between 2009 to 2014, a fleet of these small-sized MC-12W Liberties flew for nearly 40000 combat hours.
All the MC-12Ws combined allowed the US army to kill or capture a little over than 8000 militants as well as terrorist. In addition to this, the advanced surveillance system of MC-12W allowed the army to discover 650 caches of enemy filled with large weapons. Another amazing feat of the MC-12Wis that this aircraft was the one to detect any kind of explosive device on the tracks of US convoys’ and was able to divert them timely thus saving the lives of thousands of coalition troops.
The MC-12W Liberty is also an important part for the Joint Task Force ODIN program. This program uses the combined efforts of the UAVs and the manned surveillance aircraft, which in this case is MC-12W Liberty, for the better identification and the tracking of the valued enemy targets. The common example would be the senior ISIS leaders operating in Iraq.
The MC-12W Liberty, as we said earlier is the modified and upgraded version of its former self the Hawker Beechcraft Super King Air 350ER. But the MC-12W, unlike its predecessor is not a tourist aircraft but is equipped to have the following systems.
- Data collection
The Liberty ISR aircraft have been equipped with the following state of the art ISR related technologies.
- A high tech Radar system,
- SIGNIT Sensors
- Infrared Cameras
- Hi-Definition Video Cameras
The aircraft has nearly the same level of intelligence gathering capabilities as the J-Star and the Predator drone but all of it packed in small and a really less costly airframe.
The MC-12W is also equipped with a powerful Infrared Pointer that allows the aircraft to mark either an individual person or an object that then the ground troops can either avoid contact with or engage them in battle. Without a need to say it, these infrared markers are not visible to the enemy forces who are not wearing the night vision Goggles.
Some models of the MC-12W have also been fitted with an onboard laser designator which allows the aircraft for guiding in munitions strikes with precision.
The main purpose of the MC-12W is not to fight but is instead to improve the precision as well as the accuracy for the UAVs and the Army Gunships to fire their Hellfire missiles. Still, this laser guider is also equipped with the ability to control various laser-guided missiles that are launched from the manned fast movers as well as the 70 mm rockets.
Although the aircraft is small in size and slow in speed when it comes for a surveillance aircraft, it is still not a completely defenseless aircraft. Every MC-12W is equipped with the following defense mechanisms.
- Radar warning receivers
- Chaff or flare countermeasures
- Active Infrared Laser that can blind the incoming missiles
The MC-132W is powered by twin Pratt & Whitney PT6A-60A turboprop engines that allow the aircraft to be propelled at a speed of nealry300 knots while flying at ceiling of 35000 feet. The main aspect of this small aircraft is not its speed or its ceiling height, it is actually the endurance. The MC-12W is able to fly for a combat range of 2400 nautical miles for a time period of nearly 8 hours.
The aircraft is able to fly into many hotpots where other aircraft cannot simply go and this is a thing that only a few other propeller-driven aircraft in the world can perform.
The MC-12W Liberty might be an upgraded version of a small-sized propeller driver aircraft but due to its amazing ISR Support systems, the aircraft has become one of the indispensable spy assets for the US Army’s major divisions over the years.
The ISR system coupled with its precision laser guides is not only able to strike the enemy forces with accuracy but also allows for the aircraft to defend itself. All of this, when combined with its ability to stay afloat for 8 hours straight for a combat range of 2400 nautical miles, is an impressive feat on its own for a propeller drive aircraft.