More than Just An Aircraft

The Air Force plans to deploy an expeditionary air support operations group of about 100 airmen to Southwest Asia later this year to support its new fleet of MC-12W intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft. These airmen, operating out of sites throughout the theater, will analyze, disseminate, and process the full-motion imagery and signals intelligence data collected by the aircraft’s sensors. The airmen will help to pass on this information as quickly as possible to the ground troops at the tactical level who need it most. “Heretofore, intelligence was largely centered at high levels,” Brig. Gen. Blair E. Hansen, director of ISR capabilities on the Air Staff, told reporters in the Pentagon Jan. 23. He continued: “Now we have the ability to flatten it. We’ve made it immediately consumable … and this system is one of those systems pumping information into that picture.” The first of the MC-12Ws is expected in Southwest Asia in April. The aircraft themselves will be equipped with such tools as the remote operational video enhanced receiver to pass live video streams directly to the airmen on the ground who call in air strikes. (For more, read Project Liberty Heads Downrange)