Report: Air Force Plan Considers King Airs For Recon

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Seeking full-motion video reconnaissance platforms, the Air Force "is quietly rushing to field more than three dozen" twin-engine propeller-driven aircraft to provide that capability "on the battlefield in Iraq and Afghanistan," according to Inside The Air Force. The report from InsideDefense.com says that according to a July briefing from Air Combat Command, the Air Force would use the aircraft in a program called "Project Liberty." Aircraft considered for the task would likely be modified Hawker Beechcraft King Air 350s carrying video and communications equipment, according to the report. However, Hawker Beechcraft this weekend told Kansas.com that the company does not have a contract to provide aircraft. The plan as reported called for collection of the aircraft at a rate of about two per month beginning in 2008 and deployable within a year.

The Air Force would ultimately operate three squadrons with one to remain in the United States, perhaps at Andrews Air Force Base or Hurlbert Field, "which is home to the Air Force Special Operations Command," according to InsideDefense.com. Aircraft maintenance, according to the report, would be contracted. Aircraft are expected to arrive directly from the production line -- Hawker's is currently affected by a union strike.