The Air Force recently deployed the 30th MC-12W Liberty intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft to Southwest Asia, thus completing the initial deployment of the entire operational fleet in only 13 months. “This project is an unqualified success, and the model for how we should develop and deliver quick-reaction ISR capabilities,” said Lt. Gen. David Deptula, deputy chief of staff for ISR. Indeed the Air Force and industry needed less than eight months to take the MC-12 from concept to its first combat sortie. The aircraft provides full-motion video feeds and signals intelligence directly to ground forces. To date, MC-12s have flown more than 5,000 combat sorties and taken more than 22,000 hours of FMV that have assisted in the capture of hundreds of insurgents and the discovery of weapons. The Air Force intends to operate 37 MC-12s, including seven for training. (SAF/PA report by MSgt. Russell Petcoff)
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.