MC-12 Eyed in Counternarcotics Role

Air Force Secretary Michael Donley said the service’s MC-12 Liberty intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance fleet would boost the National Guard’s ability to counter drug smugglers. Beginning in Fiscal 2014, the Air Force intends to transfer its 42 Liberty aircraft to the Air National Guard to mitigate the effects of proposed force-structure changes outlined in the service’s Fiscal 2013 budget. “We gave serious consideration to putting [the MC-12] in the Guard and [Air Force] Reserve from the very beginning,” said Donley in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday. He added, “It does have a counter-drug capability well beyond the existing capabilities of the RC-26, which has been used in that capacity across the southern tier of the US.” However, back then, the service leadership decided that “the Guard did not have the manpower to support and generate the required capability to operate those downrange” in support of contingency operations overseas. That has changed and service leaders now see the MC-12 as “a more sustainable mission for the Air National Guard as the force structure adjusts a little,” said Donley. (Donley-Schwartz prepared statement)