US Southern Command is hoping to gain access to the Air Force’s MC-12 Liberty intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance fleet when operations in Afghanistan wind down, said SOUTHCOM Commander Gen. Douglas Fraser Wednesday. During a meeting with reporters in Washington, D.C., Fraser said he has already spoken with the Air Force about the MC-12s, but it’s too early to say what type of support the command would receive. He said the MC-12 is similar to some aircraft already used for ISR in the region, such as the C-26. “Some of the countries have detained and captured drug aircraft that are very similar, such as a Beechcraft King Air, and are converting [them] to a platform similar to an MC-12,” said Fraser. “I think it’s a very, very useful capability for the region.” Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told House lawmakers in late February that MC-12s could help boost the Air National Guard’s counter drug-smuggling mission. The service has proposed transferring the 42-aircraft MC-12 fleet from the active duty to the Air Guard in Fiscal 2014.
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.