Electronic Weapons: CAESAR Gets Podded

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June 6, 2013: The U.S. Army has repackaged the electronic eavesdropping equipment normally used on manned MC-12 aircraft into two pods that can be operated from the new army MQ-1C Gray Eagle UAV. The two pods are called NERO (Networked Electronic Warfare, Remotely Operated). The original system was installed in Beechcraft King Air twin engine commercial aircraft. That system was designed for electronic warfare and reconnaissance against irregular forces (Taliban or Iraq terrorists). The Beechcraft King Airs performed like a heavy (Gray Eagle, Predator, or Reaper) UAV. The MC-12 was crammed with vidcams, electronic sensors, jammers, and radios and this ensemble of gear was called CEASAR (Communications Electronic Attack with Surveillance And Reconnaissance). The MC-12 could spend hours circling an Afghan or Iraqi battleground, keeping troops on the ground aware of enemy walkie-talkie and cell phone use, including the location of these devices and translations of what is being discussed. The MQ-1C has vidcams as standard equipment so its two-pod version of CAESAR has everything but the vidcams.

Military use of the King Air in the United States (where Beechcraft is located) began in the early 1970s, when the U.S. Army adopted the King Air as the RC-12 and then used it for a wide variety of intelligence missions ever since. Israel developed its own versions (the Tzufit). But the Israelis had different needs and they eventually developed a King Air equipped to deal with Palestinian terrorists who had declared war on Israel in 2000. In the last decade Israel developed an intelligence collection version of the King Air that the U.S. eventually adopted three years ago as the MC-12 CEASAR. Now the MC-12, like many other manned recon aircraft, are being replaced by UAVs.

 


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