U.S. Army Special Mission Aircraft (with paint scheme that disguises its real mission) crash lands in Iraq

It’s not really a passenger plane….

On Mar. 5, a U.S. Army MC-12W Liberty plane crash landed near Erbil, Iraq.

According to the Kurdish media outlet Rudaw, the plane, registered N6351V, landed in an open field near the town of Kawrgosk 37 km west of the capital Erbil and 10 Km from the international airport.

Soon after the aircraft crash landed, a U.S. helicopter with a TRAP (Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel) team arrived on the scene sealing off the area while the people aboard the military variant of a B350 King Air were evacuated.

What makes the mishap interesting is that the aircraft is an MC-12W EMARSS (Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System) variant: the quasi-civilian King Air 300 is used to perform ELINT (Electronic Intelligence), COMINT (Communication Intelligence), direction finding as well as Full Motion Video broadcasting to the tactical commanders on the ground, for day and night target detection, location, classification and tracking, as well as counter-IED operations.

The EMARSS are equipped with EO/IR (electro-optic/infra-red) sensor, an aerial precision geolocation system, line-of-sight tactical and beyond line-of-sight communications suites, two Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) workstations, and a self-protection suite.

The modified King Airs are based at Hunter AAF, Georgia.

Noteworthy, the aircraft that suffered the incident in Iraq wears a non-standard color scheme (usually grey and white) most probably to disguise itself as a light transport plane.

Image credit: Rudaw

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.