Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announced it has delivered two Guardrail Common Sensor (GRCS) aircraft to the US Army after upgrading them with an electronic intelligence (ELINT) system.
Also referred to as RC-12X, GRCS aircraft have been providing a key aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (AISR) capability for special mission operations for more than 45 years.
SNC is the prime systems integrator for the Army’s GRCS fleet which consists of up to 44 aircraft in five different variations.
The RC-12X are based on a Beechcraft King Air platform and have been providing the army with tactical signal intelligence (SIGINT) since 1971, when they monitored Soviet Block troop movements in East Germany and Czechoslovakia. At the end of the Cold War three Guardrail systems were deployed to Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm where they helped pinpoint the location of the Iraqi Republican Guard and provided over watch of other Iraqi troop movements to coalition forces — and one of the systems operated in direct support of the Marine Corps’ movement up the coast in to Kuwait City.
The original Guardrail aircraft were Army U-21 aircraft modified to RU-21 configuration. Beginning in 1984, the RU-21 aircraft were replaced with upgraded RC-12 aircraft, and the last of the RU-21s were retired after the Cold War.
“As a prime systems integrator, SNC is uniquely suited to meet the turn-key, ISR and special mission challenges of our customers,” said Tim Owings, executive vice president of SNC’s Mission Solutions and Technologies business area. “We are very proud of our small SWAP ELINT system and honored to support the Army with this critical aircraft and its mission.”
The company said it would continue its work on the ELINT upgrade for the RC-12X, but did not specify how many aircraft are set to undergo the procedure.