L-3 delivers first 7 MC-12Ws to US Air Force

Washington DC
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This story is sourced from Flight International
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L-3 Communications has converted all seven used Beechcraft King Air 350s ordered by the US Air Force as part of phase 1 of Project Liberty.

The announcement on 22 July indicates the programme has recovered from early delays blamed on the unexpected complexity of converting used aircraft into a common military configuration.

"We've had people working long and hard to get these aircraft out to the troops," said Mark Von Schwarz, president of L-3's Mission Integration Division.

L-3 is now changing its focus to building 29 new King Air 350ERs to convert into a fleet of 37 MC-12W Liberty aircraft for the USAF. L-3 is also on contract to convert one more used King Air 350ER into the MC-12W, a multi-intelligence platform.

L-3 also has disclosed that the company has tripled its final assembly locations for MC-12Ws to three sites in order to meet the USAF's delivery schedule.

The USAF launched Project Liberty in May 2008, seeking to respond quickly to calls by US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. The MC-12W includes a full motion video sensor that can be played back in real-time to deconstruct the scene after an insurgent attack or an explosion by an improvised electronic device.

The programme was named Project Liberty as a homage to the World War II-era Liberty Ship programme, which led to the rapid construction of thousands of ships to carry supplies to US and allied forces.

More recently, the USAF has also revealed plans to make the MC-12W a permanent mission, with plans to deploy the aircraft to combat terrorists and guerrilla forces in parts of Africa and Latin America.