The US Air Force has deployed the latest MC-12 surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft in Afghanistan, to enhance video, still image and eavesdropping capabilities of the ground troops.

Equipped with satellite communications datalinks, voice communications and an electro-optical infrared sensor, each of the twin-engine turboprop MC-12 aircraft costs $21m.

A military version of the Hawker Beechcraft Super King Air 350 and Super King 350ER, the MC-12 aircraft will provide intelligence, and surveillance and reconnaissance directly to ground forces.

The MC-12 aircraft will also supplement unmanned Predator drones, which provide round-the-clock surveillance to the US Army in Afghanistan.

The Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is in charge of the MC-12 programme.