Beechcraft RC-12D "Guardrail"
United States Army — Twin-engined special-mission battlefield surveillance aircraft
Beech RC-12D "Guardrail" (Huron) (AF 80-23374) at the 2000 NAS Point Mugu Airshow
The C-12 Huron is the military designation for a series of twin-engine turboprop aircraft based on the the Beechcraft Super King Air and Beechcraft 1900. C-12 variants are used by the United States Air Force, United States Army, and the United States Navy. These aircraft are used for various duties, including embassy support, medical evacuation, as well as passenger and light cargo transport. Some aircraft are modified with surveillance systems for various missions, including the Cefly Lancer and the Guardrail programs.
- Role: Civil utility aircraft
- Manufacturer: Beechcraft
- Status: Active service
- Primary users: United States Air Force, United States Army, United States Marine Corps, United States Navy
- Unit cost USD: $6 Million
- Developed from: Beechcraft Super King Air
Design and Development
The first C-12A models entered service with the Army in 1974 and was used as a liaison and general personnel transport. The aircraft was essentially an "off-the-shelf" Super King Air 200, powered by the type's standard Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-41 engines.
The U.S. Navy followed suit in 1979, ordering a version of the Super King Air A200C (modified with a 52 inch by 52 inch cargo door from the Super King Air 200C), designating it the UC-12B, for logistics support between naval and marine corps air stations and other activities, both in CONUS and overseas. The cabin can readily accommodate cargo, passengers or both. It is also equipped to accept litter patients in medical evacuation missions. Through 1982, the Navy ordered 64 of these aircraft.
The U.S. Army selected the C-12 platform for use as an intelligence-gathering aircraft under the Guardrail series of programs. The Guardrail program uses variants RC-12D, -12H, -12K, -12N, -12P, and -12Q variants. The aircraft's role is as an electronic snooper, listening in for enemy radio transmissions. The aircraft is flown by a flight crew of two, and the missions equipment is operated remotely from a ground control center. Guardrail is a Corps Level Airborne signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection/location system that integrates the Improved GUARDRAIL V (IGR V), Communication High Accuracy Airborne Location System (CHAALS), and the Advanced QUICKLOOK (AQL) systems into the same aircraft platform. Key features include integrated COMINT and ELINT reporting, enhanced signal classification and recognition, fast Direction Finding (DF), precision emitter location, and an advanced integrated aircraft cockpit.
The RC-12D was operated during the 1980s by the 2nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 207th Military Intelligence Brigade (Eyes of the Jayhawk) located out of Echterdingen Kaserne, at the Stuttgart Airport. The 207th MI brigade deployed with VII Corps to Al Qaisumah Airport, in Saudi Arabia, in December 1990 in support of Operations Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Calm.
As of 2006, four U.S Army Aerial Exploitation Battalions (AEB) operate these aircraft. The 3rd Military Intelligence (MI) Battalion operates the RC-12D and -12H in South Korea. The 1st Military Intelligence Battalion flies the RC-12K from its base in Wiesbaden, Germany. The 15th Military Intelligence Battalion, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, operates the RC-12P and -12Q models. The 224th Military Intelligence Battalion flies the RC-12N and is based at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. The crew training location for these and other Special Electronic Mission Aircraft (SEMA) is Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Every AEB with the exception of the 3rd MI BN has conducted wartime intelligence collection in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 3rd MI Battalion flies Sensitive Reconnaissance Operation (SRO) missions on the Korean peninsula.
With the advances in technology and advent of tactical UAVs, the Army has announced that it is seeking a replacement for the Guardrail aircraft.
To meet the needs of transporting larger groups, the Army purchased six C-12J aircraft, based on the Beechcraft 1900C commuter airliner. Of the military C-12J's one is used for GPS jamming tests at the 586th Flight Test Squadron, Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Another is based at the 517th Airlift Squadron, Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska. Three were based at the 55th Airlift Flight, Osan Air Base, South Korea. They have been relocated to the 459th Airlift Squadron, Yokota Air Base, Japan. The remaining two are used by U.S. Army Aviation.
Although the UD- series 1900s were manufactured exclusively for military use, the United States military and other military and government organizations use 1900s from other series such as the UB-series 1900C, and 1900Ds which may be found elsewhere.
King Air 200-Based Variants
- C-12A: Used by the U.S. Army for liaison and attaché transport. Based on the King Air A200 (serial numbers BC-1 through BC-61, BD-1 and up).
- UC-12B: Navy version, with an additional cargo door. Based on the King Air A200C (serial numbers BJ-1 and up).
- NC-12B: Navy single-aircraft version, UC-12B BuNo 161311 equipped with four P-3C Sonobuoy launchers.
- TC-12B: Navy training version of the UC-12B.
- C-12C: Army and Air Force version of the C-12A with upgraded engines. Based on the King Air A200 (serial numbers BC-62 and up).
- C-12D: Army and Air Force version. Based on the King Air A200CT, changes include larger cargo door, "high-flotation" landing gear (a Beechcraft option for larger main landing gear wheels for use on unimproved runways) (serial numbers BP-1, BP-22, BP-24 through BP-51).
- UC-12D: Based on the King Air A200CT (serial numbers BP-7 though BP-11).
- RC-12D: Guardrail program, used by the Army for signals intelligence (SIGINT) and electronic surveillance missions with the Guardrail V sensor system. Acquired in 1984, based on the King Air A200CT (13 aircraft, serial numbers GR-1 through GR-13).
- C-12F: Air Force transport version. Based on the King Air A200CF (serial numbers BP-52 through BP-63) and the King Air B200C (serial numbers BP-64 and up).
- RC-12F: Navy version of the UC-12F modified with surface search radar.
- UC-12F: Navy version. Based on the King Air B200C (serial number BU-1 and up, BV-1 and up, BW-1 and up).
- RC-12G: Army version used for real-time tactical intelligence support under the Crazyhorse program. Based on the King Air A200CT (three aircraft, serial numbers FC-1 and up).
- RC-12H: Army version, used for Guardrail missions, based on RC-12D, but improved Guardrail V equipment. Acquired in 1988, based on the King Air A200CT (6 aircraft, serial numbers GR-14 through GR-19).
- RC-12K: Army version for Guardrail SIGINT use with improved Guardrail Common Sensor (GRCS) equipment. Also has upgraded engines. Acquired in 1991, based on the King Air A200CT (9 aircraft, serial numbers FE-1 through FE-24).
- C-12L: Three A200s acquired for use in the Cefly Lancer program as RU-21Js. In 1984 the three aircraft modified with new VIP interiors, and returned to the US Army as C-12Ls.
- UC-12M: Navy UC-12B and UC-12F aircraft with upgraded cockpit instrumentation.
- RC-12M: Navy RC-12F with upgraded cockpit instrumentation, plus other systems and structural upgrades.
- RC-12N: Army RC-12K modified with more powerful engines for increased payload, and improved missions systems, acquired in 1994 (15 aircraft used).
- RC-12P: Army RC-12N modified with improved systems, increased takeoff weights. Based on the King Air A200CT (9 aircraft, serial numbers FE-25 and up).
- RC-12Q: Army RC-12P with GRCS systems, and modified with a radome mounted on the top of the fuselage (3 aircraft).
- C-12R: Off the shelf BE200 modified with EFIS glass cockpit instrumentation.
- C-12T: Upgrade of earlier Army (C-12F) versions with improved cockpit instrumentation.
- C-12U: Upgrade of C-12T Army version with improved cockpit instrumentation in order to meet global air traffic management directives.
King Air 350-Based Variants
- C-12S: Army version based on the King Air 350, with seating for 8 to 15 passengers and quick cargo conversion capability.
- MC-12W: USAF version modified for the Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (ISR) role; 8 King Air 350s and 29 King Air 350ERs on order.
Beechcraft 1900-Based Variant
- C-12J: Used by Air National Guard, carries 2 crew and 19 passengers. Based on the Beechcraft 1900C (serial numbers UD-1 through UD-6).
- Note: The U.S. military also operates other King Air versions under other designations, including the C-6 Ute and T-44 series.
- In addition, there are a number of Beechcraft 1900s operated by the military under civilian registrations, using their civilian model designations.
Specifications (King Air B200)
- Crew: 1-2
- Capacity: 13 passengers
- Length: 43 ft 9 in (13.34 m)
- Wingspan: 54 ft 6 in (16.61 m)
- Height: 15 ft 0 in (4.57 m)
- Wing area: 303 ft² (28.2 m²)
- Empty weight: 7,755 lb (3,520 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 12,500 lb (5,670 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42 turboprops, 850 shp (635 kW) each
- Maximum speed: 333 mph (289 knots, 499 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4,600 m)
- Range: 2,075 mi (1,800 nm, 3,338 km) with maximum fuel and 45 minute reserve
- Service ceiling: 32,800 ft (10,700 m)
- Rate of climb: 2,450 ft/min (12.5 m/s)
- Wing loading: 41.3 lb/ft² (201.6 kg/m²)
- Power/mass: 0.14 hp/lb (220 W/kg)
- Photos: John Shupek, Copyright © 2009 Skytamer Images. All Rights Reserved
- Wikipedia. C-12 Huron, 28 November 2009
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