Posturing Tactical ISR Beyond the Umbilical Cord   [open pdf - 4MB]

"Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) has conducted special operations missions across the globe extremely well throughout the years especially when it comes to tactical ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] support with both its remotely piloted fleet of MQ-9s and manned ISR fleet of U-28As and recently acquired MC-12Ws. Each type of platform, either remotely piloted or manned, brings significant enhancements for supporting special operations missions. [...] AFSOC fills its alert requirements with MQ-9s that are capable of deploying onboard a cargo aircraft anywhere across the globe to support a crisis or contingency mission. As highlighted above there are no manned ISR assigned to the alert posture. This may be due to the fact that neither the U-28A nor the MC-12W is well suited to support the alert mission. This paper will evaluate the capabilities of remotely piloted aircraft like the MQ-9 and the manned aircraft in AFSOC's inventory, the U-28A and MC-12, and make recommendations to fill the void created by the lack of a manned ISR platform assigned to the special operations alert force that is postured to respond rapidly across the globe to take on the nation's interest."

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