Our local left is concerned about the deployment of the MC-12W aircraft at Beale AFB. With only a 1,500 mile range they are worried that this Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance aircraft might be used to spy on them.
A twin engine turboprop spy plane? I wonder how they will get from Beale to Afghanistan . . . Or…are they intended to spy on local Tea Party rallies?
. . . I too wonder what they are going to be spying on within 1500 NM of Beale AFB. Drug interdiction? . . .
Details on the deployment of the aircraft to Beale ARB appeared in the Appeal-Democrat in a story titled: Beale lands MC-12W spy plane mission
The MC-12W spy plane mission will be based at Beale Air Force Base, bringing hundreds of new airmen and greater economic impact to the surrounding region.
"This should be a shot in the arm for the Yuba-Sutter area economically," said U.S. Rep. Wally Herger, R-Chico, whose office announced the mission's placement Friday. "We are so excited."
With the first plane arriving in May, by July the base will have up to seven of 37 total "Liberty" planes, while the others are deployed elsewhere. The planes fly at low and medium altitudes for reconnaissance and spy missions and are piloted, unlike the Global Hawks also based at Beale.
The mission will require 555 enlisted airmen, and Herger said he would expect it will require new civilian support staff as well.Brynda Stranix, president and chief operating officer for the Yuba-Sutter Economic Development Corporation, said she expects civilian staff supporting the mission could number another 150.
Let's dig a little deeper. The MC-12W Liberty is a multi-mission aircraft. That is what the M stands for. Most reconnaissance aircraft have an R designation such as a version used by the Army, the RC-12N Guardrail Common Sensor Program. The RC-12H is battle field signal intelligence collection system, picture in right.
USAF is buying 8 MC12W Beechcraft King Air 350S most likely for training at Beale AFB, and 27 Extended Range Special-Mission Beechcraft King Air 350ER modified for the Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) for deployment in theater. Picture above.
The USAF intends to integrate the Gorgon Stare video capture technology into the aircraft. Gorgon Stare looks over broad areas such as small town, and is designed to detect motion. It has a playback capability that allows the aircrew to observe a road side bomb explosion and then replay the video so see what led to that explosion. They can also send the data via satellite to processing centers for distribution to field units.
Until now the Gorgon Stare has been used on the MQ-9 Reaper unmaned aircraft in a pod configuration, but the MQ-9 carrying Gorgon Stare must fly unarmed because of electrical power limitations. It can only stay aloft at 20,000-25,000 ft. for only 14-15 hr., several hours less than an armed MQ-9. Endurance is affected by drag from the pods. Armed MQ-9s are more effective killers, than surveillance & reconnaissance platfoms.
The MC12W in the extended range version seems to be a better platform for the Gorgon Stare, as it has the power resources, and room for some onboard processing and display capbility, decreasing battle field response times. The King Air 350ER can fly non-stop from California to Hawaii - an important staging distance for a military aircraft lacking in-flight refuelling capability. The MQ-9 Gorgon Stare has to send the data to ground processing stations, where as the manned aircraft have the straegic advantage on-the-fly mission changes.
I do not think our local lefties will have to worry to much about the Air Forces using the MC12W to be looking into their back yards or to track Tea Party rallys, it has a much more important mission.