MC-12 May Go Army

The Fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill, announced by leaders from both sides of the aisle this week, requires the Defense Secretary to draft a plan for the “potential” transfer of MC-12 Liberty intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance aircraft to the Army, according to a joint explanatory statement of the NDAA released Dec. 10. The Senate proposed outright transferring MC-12s to the Army, but the House bill did not include any such demands. Therefore, the language was softened during reconciliation, so the new agreement stipulates only that the Defense Department must plan for the “potential transfer,” according to the statement. In addition, the bill would bar the Army from procuring more Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (EMARSS) aircraft, which are similar to the MC-12, in Fiscal 2014. However, the Army would be allowed to convert any transferred MC-12s to EMARSS standards and complete the upgrade or conversion of existing Army airframes as EMARSS in Fiscal 2014, according to the draft language. MC-12s have supported battlefield operations with manned ISR in Afghanistan since 2009.