Well, the Army wants to replace its 117-strong fleet of C-12 Huron twin turboprop planes that it uses for everything from ISR to light cargo hauling.
Wait a second, you say; didn’t the Army just pass a big effort to buy a fleet of twin turboprop transport planes to the Air Force only to see the boys in blue abandon that program? Yes indeed. But that program was aimed at replacing the Army’s C-23 Sherpa mid-sized airlifter with the C-27J Joint Cargo Aircraft, you know, the tactical hauler the Army wanted to use to provide on-deman resupply to remote bases in Afghanistan.
The Army is now kicking off an effort to replace the Hawker Beechraft King Air-based C-12 with something similar that can perform similar duties as the C-12. Remember, the civilian-looking Huron’s have often been converted into spy planes outiftted with a ton of signals (SIGINT) and imagery intelligence collection tools. (The pic above shows the one of the Army’s RC-12N Guardrail spy planes from a while ago.) Heck, the Air Force even uses the MC-12 Liberty variant as a type of manned UAV, providing ISR overwatch to troops on the ground.
It will be interesting to see if the Army goes for something in the same size category as the C-12 or opts for a bigger airframe capable of replacing its relatively small Sherpa fleet and performing the wide-ranging duties of the C-12.