The MC-12W is a medium-to-low altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Its primary mission is providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) support directly to ground forces. The MC-12W is a joint forces air component commander asset in support of the joint force commander.
The MC-12W is not just an aircraft, but a complete collection, processing, analysis and dissemination system. The aircraft are military versions of the Hawker Beechcraft Super King Air 350ER. A fully operational system consists of a modified aircraft with sensors, a ground exploitation cell, line-of-sight and satellite communications datalinks, along with a robust voice communications suite.
The aircraft is equipped with an electro-optical infrared sensor and other sensors as the mission requires. The MC-12W system is capable of worldwide operations.
The "M" is the Department of Defense designation for a multi-role version of the well-known C-12 series. In April 2008, the Secretary of Defense established a Department of Defense-wide ISR task force to identify and recommend solutions for increased ISR in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. On July 1, 2008, the Secretary of Defense tasked the Air Force to acquire 37 "C-12" class aircraft to augment unmanned systems. Of note, it was less than eight months from funding approval to delivery in the theater.
The MC-12W capability supports all aspects of the Air Force Irregular Warfare mission (counter insurgency, foreign internal defense and building partnership capacity). Medium-to-low altitude ISR is a core mission for the Air Force.
The first MC-12W arrived at Key Field in Meridian, Mississippi, April 28, 2009. The first MC-12 flew its first combat support sortie on June 12, 2009. The projected fleet of 13 MC-12W aircraft transferred from Air Combat Command to the 137th Special Operations Wing, Oklahoma Air National Guard in Oklahoma City. The first MC-12W arrived at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base July 10, 2015. Currently, the unit has use of up to 13 MC-12W platforms..
Primary function: intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
Contractor: L-3 Communications
Power plant: Pratt & Whitney PT6A-60A
Wingspan: 57 feet 11 inches ( 17.65 meters)
Length: 46 feet 8 inches (14.22 meters)
Height: 14 feet 4 inches (4.37 meters)
Weight: 12,500 pounds empty (5,669 kilograms)
Maximum takeoff weight: 16,500 pounds
Fuel capacity: 5,192 pounds (2,355 kilograms)
Speed: 312 knots
Range: approximately 2,400 nautical miles
Ceiling: 35,000 feet (10,668 meters)
Crew: two pilots and two sensor operators
Initial operating capability: June 2009
Unit cost: $17 million (aircraft and all communications equipment modifications)
Inventory: active force, 0; Reserve, 0; ANG, 13
(Current as of March 2020)