Congress’ MC-12 Verdict

Air Force Special Operations Command will continue flying the U-28 as its primary manned intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platform instead of converting to the MC-12W Liberty, AFSOC Commander Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold said. “The Congress was not enamored” with AFSOC’s plan to acquire and modify 33 second-hand MC-12s divested by Air Combat Command and US Special Operations Command, he said during a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies event March 18. After reviewing a special operations report justifying the move, Congress decided the marginal capability increase over the U-28 “wasn’t worth the investment,” Heithold said, adding that he’s “fine with that decision.” AFSOC will still get 13 MC-12s to stand up a new Air National Guard special operations ISR and foreign training unit in Oklahoma, but the rest of the 33 planned aircraft will go elsewhere, he said. The Army will take eight of the 51-strong MC-12W fleet, leaving 20 Air Force airframes up for grabs. “They’re opportune aircraft” for a government-owned, contractor-operated ISR fleet, Heithold said. “Nobody’s decided that, but the opportunity’s there,” he added.