The Air Force’s new fleet of MC-12W intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance aircraft recently flew its 1,000 combat mission in support of operations in Iraq. Currently, the Air Force operates six MC-12s out of Joint Base Balad, Iraq, as part of the 362nd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron. The fleet is expected to grow to 37 aircraft by next July. The 1,000th combat sortie was reached only five months after the MC-12’s arrival in theater. These Liberty aircraft provide invaluable real-time, full-motion overhead video to ground troops inside of Iraq. “I project we’ll go over to [Afghanistan], too, and do the same stuff over there,” said 1st Lt. Mark Finnegan, an MC-12 pilot. The MC-12s have thus far aided in the capture of 12 high-value enemy individuals and have helped discover three weapons caches. And the troops for whom they have provided overwatch have suffered zero casualties. (Balad report by SrA. Andria J. Allmond)
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."