MC-12: Wine ferry to drug hunter

MC-12: Wine ferry to drug hunter

The same turboprops the Air Force first bought from rich doctors and businessmen to collect intelligence over Iraq and Afghanistan will now fly counter narcotics missions over the U.S.-Mexico border, Air Force Secretary Michael Donley told Congress Tuesday.

The Air Force’s fleet of MC-12s will move from active duty units to the Air National Guard in 2014. Guard units in Indiana, Connecticut, Mississippi and Texas will receive the 42 aircraft the service has bought over the past four years. Airmen from the Guard unit at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, will most likely fly the brunt of the counter narcotics missions.

Air Force officials bought the MC-12s as part of Project Liberty after former Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered the service to stop dragging its feet and fast-track intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to the war zone.


Ground commanders at that point had fallen in love with unmanned drones and the persistent surveillance they provided for future raids or security. Air Force leaders wanted to add more manned aircraft that could carry sensors over the battlefield.

The MC-12 is a militarized version of the Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350 outfitted with imagery and signal intelligence sensors. Air Force acquisition officials bought the first models from private owners to include a doctor who used to ferry wine between his homes in Texas and Mexico City.

Four years later the doctor’s plane and others like it will return to Texas. However, the airmen inside will now hunt drug cartels rather than transferring an expensive wine collection to Mexico.

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Not a bad idea cheaper than a E-8 JSTAR but can it have the necessary gear and loiter time for such long patrols over the US Border?

The drug problem in this country cannot be solved by interdiction or law enforcement alone, that has been tried and it is a proven failure. The problem is demand, not supply. We must treat the addicts and the underlying mental health problems that precipitate most addictions. We are risking a Mexican civil war and a further eroding of our rights in this nation unless we change course.

Last time anyone from the Govt mentioned stop using illegal drugs
was Ronald and Nancy Reagan and many laughed at them.
Now prescription drugs are killing more than illegal drugs and again
the US govt says little about it.

Agreed. You’d think we’d learn eventually, but it’s always easier to demonize the addicts. A law enforcement deterrent only works when people have a rational understanding of the consequences of their behavior. Drug addiction is basically irrational, that’s the disconnect. So people wouldn’t stop drinking booze when that was illegal, they haven’t stopped using pot, heroin, or cocaine, and they won’t quit oxycodone either just because “there’s a law.”

On top of that you would have wide options for ISR and Field commanders would be given multiple choices for ISR platforms to use. It would be like having a choice of ISR platform to have on hand.

Maybe we should spend more time trying to interdict TERRORISTS and not drug smugglers!

It sounds like a good idea, but I doubt it’s going to work out. They are great assets, but NAS Ft. Worth has the only C-130’s in all of the Gulf states. If they are replaced, then it’s going to be a mess trying to assist during tropical storms like Katrina and Rita. Those aircraft can barely fit their equipment and crew, they can’t assist with supplies or pick up people in an emergency.

Ok. Mission is to fly the US-Mexico border and we’re going to base these in Connecticut and Indiana?? Would New Mexico, Arizona, California make a little more sense?

Houston already had an ISR mission. That would make the most sense. Base them at Ellington Field.

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