U.S. Army to Fields RC-12X SIGINT Aircraft

The RC-12X Guardrail. Photo: Northrop Grumman

Upgrading the U.S. Army RC-12X Guardrail fleet of Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) aircraft under a U.S. Army task order, Northropt Grumman is scheduled to deliver the first aircraft in the second quarter of this year. The company has already delivered the first two upgraded planes in January 2011. The second pair is in the final stages of their cockpit upgrades and will be deploying to theater in March 2011. According t Northrop Grumman, these initial four systems will complete final outfitting and testing during the first quarter of 2011 before becoming fully operational. An additional 10 RC-12X’s will be fielded in the 2011-2012 timeframe bringing the total modernized Guardrail fleet to 14 systems.

The RC-12X Guardrail. Photo: Northrop Grumman

The US Army operates 48 RC-12s in six units, each operating a different configuration of the aircraft. These include the RC-12N Guardrail I, RC-12P Guardrail II, RC-12H Guardrail III, RC-12K Guardrail IV, RC-12D Guardrail V and RC-12Q Guardrail Common Sensor. The $462 million RC-12X program currently underway at Northrop Grumman is expected to bring the different aircraft to introduce common standards throughout the RC-12 Guardrail fleet.

The RC-12X Guardrail Modernization program extends the life of the aircraft through 2025 and introduces new payloads to the system with enhanced capabilities to sense and exploit emerging and rapidly evolving irregular and conventional warfare threats. The program also enhances the sustainability of the RC-12X through commonality, a new glass cockpit, structural upgrades, and significant hardware and software improvements.

RC-12X Guardrail is the Army’s premier airborne SIGINT sensor. With its associated ground processing system, Guardrail provides instantaneous, precision geo-location and identification of electronic emitters supporting the Brigade Combat Team’s intelligence and electronic combat providing Find, Fix, Finish, Exploit, Analyze and Disseminate – F3EAD functions.

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