Air Force, Army Pumping C-12s into Theate

r: The Fiscal 2010 defense budget proposal reflects an increased investment in intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance assets, DOD Comptroller Robert Hale told reporters May 7. That includes the Air Force and Army plans to field versions of the modified Hawker Beechcraft aircraft designated C-12. The first of 37 Air Force Liberty Project MC-12Ws are headed into the US Central Command area of responsibility (AOR) this month. USAF expects to field all 37 this year, under buys initiated in 2008-09 budgets. The Army version, known as the Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (MARSS), has been used as part of Task Force ODIN (observe, detect, identify, and neutralize) effort in Iraq to counter improvised explosive device networks. The Army bought eight C-12s in 2008 and plans to purchase another six under the 2010 budget. Army officials told reporters May 7 that these six airframes, forming part of the Army’s Aerial Common Sensor program, reflect the increased emphasis OSD is putting on the ISR mission in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Army budget officials would not comment on the similarity or compatibility with the Air Force’s MC-12 aircraft, but said that there was “discussion” regarding the transfer of some MC-12 aircraft to the Army, said Lt. Gen. Edgar Stanton, the Army’s military deputy for budget. The C-12 aircraft slated to operate in the CENTCOM AOR this spring will have full-motion video and signals intelligence capabilities.