Give Me Liberty

The Air Force is several months behind schedule in incorporating MC-12W sensor aircraft into the fight in Southwest Asia, much to the frustration of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, USA Today reported May 31. The newspaper cites Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell as saying Gates is concerned that the delayed arrival of these aircraft in the war theater will mean that they are “out of synch” with the buildup of US troops in Afghanistan and the Taliban offenses expected in the summer season. The Air Forceis acquiring a total of 37 MC-12Ws under an accelerated acquisition program called Project Liberty conceived to boost overhead intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance coverage in Afghanistan and Iraq. The manned MC-12Ws will collect signals intelligence and provide streaming video to troops at the tactical level. While the first aircraft originally was expected to arrive in theater in mid April, the Air Force told Daily Report in April it planned to deploy the first one in May. According to USA Today, none has yet deployed, and the first MC-12W mission there is not expected until mid month. Integrating the sensor gear on the platforms is regarded as the main culprit.