Air Force officials on May 1 activated the 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, the third unit of MC-12W intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft now operating in Southwest Asia. “The MC-12 is a critical capability, fielded at a critical time,” said Lt. Col. Darren Halford, the squadron’s commander. He added, “Your actions will drastically improve joint and combined counterinsurgency capabilities, assist Afghanistan with defeating the insurgency, and ultimately save American and coalition lives.” The 80-member squadron is part of Kandahar’s 451st Air Expeditionary Wing. Like the MC-12s flown by the 362nd ERS at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, and the 4th ERS at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, its aircraft will provide ground troops with live streaming video and signals intelligence. The unit’s first MC-12 actually flew its first combat sortie from Kandahar already on April 1. (Kandahar report by TSgt. Renni Thornton)
Rumored cuts to the F-35 from the fiscal 2025 defense budget—six from Air Force plans—would not be offset by recent Foreign Military Sales, and will disrupt ongoing Lot 19 negotiations, Pentagon and industry sources said.