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The Past Lives of the MC-12 Liberties

by John Reed on September 8, 2011

For some light reading this evening, you should check out the NYT piece below on the Air Force’s fleet of MC-12 Liberty ISR turboprops. While you’re not going to find out anything new about the MC-12 program itself, the anecdotes of the civilian life that one of the planes had before being purchased by the Air Force is  interesting.

As you know, the MC-12s were pressed into service as a kind of manned UAV extremely rapidly as a way of addressing the military’s enormous need for airborne ISR in Iraq and Afghanistan. In many cases, the air service bought up civilian Beechcraft King Airs and converted them into spy planes rather than looking to buy new planes or take C-12s (the military designation for the King Air) from other commands.

Keep in mind that as the big Air Force was fielding the Liberties, Air Force Special Operations Command was leasing some Pilatus PC-12 turboprops and pressing them into service — complete with civilian paint jobs — as the U-28A. As far as I know, AFSOC now owns its fleet of U-28As outright. The single-engine planes are used as a low-profile way of flying air commandos to places where the locals wouldn’t be too excited to see a U.S. Air Force C-130 on the ramp.

Here’s the article.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

B Rad September 8, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Good read…


Musson September 9, 2011 at 8:44 am

Are they looking for Sky King and Penny?


Cheesed September 9, 2011 at 10:19 am

"Manned UAV?" Wouldn't that just make it an "airplane?"


EJ257 September 9, 2011 at 10:49 am

"Manned unmanned aerial vehicle" - well alright then.


Mastro September 9, 2011 at 11:56 am

"Spotter plane " seemed to work from WW1 to Vietnam.

the military is in love with new names.


Ed Resor September 10, 2011 at 8:16 pm

Can anyone estimate the number of MC-12s in service? I have heard numbers as high as 40 counting the second hand planes converted by L-2 plus the new planes supplied by Beechcraft?


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