The Air Force now plans to send its newly acquired Hawker Beechcraft-built MC-12W intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft to Southwest Asia in May. Earlier officials had speculated that the Project Liberty aircraft would deploy this month, but an Air Force spokesman told the Daily Report Tuesday that the service was on a new timeline. He explained that the first MC-12W USAF has received are used and consequently had “different customer specifications” so it took time to customize the aircraft for ISR operations. The Air Force sought out a readily available platform that it could quickly field to relieve some of the burden that’s been placed on MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles in providing much-sought full motion video and signals intelligence capabilities. The service took delivery of the first one last month and expects to have all 37 by year’s end.
The Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness revised the Defense Department’s COVID-19 guidelines. The new rules clarify what’s meant by being “up to date” on vaccinations and when personnel must wear masks in vehicles, among other changes.