The USAF’s new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft, MC-12 Liberty, has completed its first combat sortie at the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing in Afghanistan.

The 361st Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron commander Lt Col Darren Halford said that the MC-12 Liberty aircraft was a manned special-mission turboprop aircraft designed for ISR, which brought a different capability to the fight.

It will provide real-time tactical ISR to analysts and aircrew deployed together for seamless operations and maximum interaction with joint ground forces.

Fitted with extended-range fuel tanks, the new MC-12 aircraft will provide increased range and endurance.

“The MC-12 unparalleled capability to exploit the high ground, and give ground forces vital information about enemy locations and actions,” Halford said.

“The MC-12 will protect US and coalition lives, and will be a vital tool helping Afghanistan defeat the insurgency.”

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Its crew will include a pilot, a co-pilot, a sensor operator and a cryptologic operator.

The imagery analysts in the ISR exploitation cell will act as a fifth crewmember, exploiting information and liaising with ground forces.