More Liberty Aircraft on the Way

The Air Force has asked Hawker Beechcraft to provide six additional MC-12W Liberty Project Aircraft after the company completed delivery of the first 23 of the intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance turboprops, according to a company release. The first of these modified King Air 350ER aircraft flew a combat mission over Iraq in June following a rush procurement effort that then-Air Forces Central boss Lt. Gen. Gary North called miraculous. USAF had expected to begin fielding the aircraft in April, but modifying seven different configurations of the used King Air aircraft in the initial order proved more problematic than anticipated. The slow start up dismayed Defense Secretary Robert Gates, but he praised workers in August during a visit to the Greenville, Tex., production facility, noting that some of the aircraft on the line then were soon destined to support operations in Afghanistan.