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Air Force officials to use prop planes as ISR platforms

by Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

1/27/2009 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- To better fill combatant commanders' needs for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, Air Force officials will begin using C-12 Huron turboprop planes as ISR platforms.

The program, called Project Liberty, involves Airmen operating a fleet of 37 C-12 aircraft providing ISR full-motion video and signals intelligence for operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

The specialized crew of four will provide military leaders with real-time data and information to make key battlefield decisions.

The project is part of the secretary of Defense's ISR task force and derives from his direction to provide more ISR capabilities to U.S. Central Command. There will be two deployed units and one stateside training unit.

"This fight demands decisive information, surgical ISR, tailored to the level of the fight," said Brig. Gen. Blair E. Hansen, the A2 director of ISR capabilities and Air Force lead for the task force. "This capability will give field commanders more important and timely knowledge to make critical decisions. To be effective in counterinsurgency requires micro information fast, to both kill or capture terrorists as well as to protect our joint and coalition force and the civilian population."

The modified C-12s -- designated MC-12W -- will be deployed to the CENTCOM area of operations this April. The crews will be on a six-month deployment schedule, ensuring there is always enough manpower for the mission, the general said.

"Not only do C-12s have a relatively low footprint when it comes to ramp space on a flightline, but also they're easy to maintain and operate," General Hansen said. "They'll be able to work directly with forces on the ground, so this is an ideal option for the Air Force and our coalition partners."

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