Mississippi ANG Gains MC-12W

The Air Force has turned over the first of its new Liberty Project Aircraft to the Mississippi Air National Guard’s 186th Air Refueling Wing at Key Field in Meridian. The plan unveiled last fall will place seven of the intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance-modified Hawker Beechcraft aircraft with the 186th ARW, which is slated to lose its KC-135 tankers under BRAC 2005. The unit, which also has about a dozen years experience operating RC-26 counterdrug mission aircraft, temporarily will run an MC-12 mission qualification detachment. The Air Force plans to field the MC-12W manned ISR aircraft in Southwest Asia beginning this month and expects to have all 37 LPA aircraft in hand by year’s end. Under Project Liberty, the service sought a readily available commercial aircraft that could be quickly modified for the ISR mission to help fill increasing requirements for battlefield intelligence.