The C-12 Huron is a military version of an executive passenger and transport aircraft based on the Beech Model 200 Super King Air. It is primarily used by the US Air Force, US Navy, US Army and US Marine Corps for several functions, including range clearance, embassy support, medical evacuation, VIP transport, passenger and light cargo transport. The C-12 took its maiden flight on 27 October 1972 and entered service with the US Army in 1974.Powered by a twin-engine turboprop, the C-12 aircraft is manufactured by Beechcraft in the US. The aircraft can accommodate a maximum of two crew, namely a pilot and co-pilot, and 13 passengers or 5,000lb of cargo. More than 300 aircraft are currently in service with the US armed forces. The C-12 Huron is the mainstay of operation support airlift (OSA).
System Field Support (SFS), a subsidiary of L-3 Communications, was contracted for $440m in 2010 to render Life-Cycle Contractor Support for the fleet of C-12, RC-12 and UC-35 aircraft, deployed in the US Army, Army Reserves and Army National Guard, for five years.
The US Navy and the US Air Force awarded a five-year, $300m contract to SFS in May 2011 to provide contractor logistics support (CLS) services to its fleet of C-12 aircraft.L-3 Communications won a $302m contract to provide aircraft maintenance, logistics support, and materials for the US Navy’s C-12 utility lift aircraft in 2016. The five-year contract covers trainer and reserve aircraft.
A US Navy C-12 Huron participated in a readiness exercise with other military aircraft including Koku-Jieitai F-35A Lightning II and F-16CM Fighting Falcons at the Misawa Air Base in Japan which culminated in a joint and bilateral “elephant walk” formation, in June 2020.
C-12 passenger and transport aircraft orders and deliveries
A total of 380 C-12s were ordered by the US Armed Forces by the 1990s.
Around 91 C-12A aircraft were procured by the US Army (60), US Air Force (30), and Greek Air Force (one). A total of 14 C-12A aircraft from the US Army were converted to C-12C. The US Navy ordered 49 UC-12B aircraft, while 17 were acquired by the US Marines for communication flights.
The US Army and Air Force procured 24 and six C-12D aircraft respectively for embassy support flights. 40 C-12F aircraft were delivered to the US Air Force in 1984 after a five-year lease, six were delivered to the Air National Guard and 17 to the US Army.
The US Navy procured 12 UC-12M in 1987, of which two were converted to the RC-12M by incorporating surface search radar and operator’s console. The US Air Force currently operates four C-12J aircraft.
C-12 Huron features
The C-12 Huron features a cargo door with a built-in airstair to provide easy access for entry and exit for both passengers and cargo. The modified flight deck and cabin is used for high-altitude flights. The aircraft’s cabin can be readily assembled to cater to passengers, cargo or both.
The autopilot, colour weather radar, tactical air navigation system, VHF and UHF radios installed in the C-12J aircraft enhance its safety and operational capabilities. The aircraft comprises a two-seat cockpit.
The multi-functional displays (MFDs) are replaced with current navigation equipment as part of a modernisation programme. The MFDs also show the required navigation information to the pilot. Other modifications in the C-12J encompass three integrated global positioning systems (GPS), two flight management systems (FMS), a new autopilot, VHF/UHF communication radios and weather radar.
C-12 Huron aircraft refuelling
The four fuel tanks in the aircraft can be refuelled through filler caps located on the top of each wing. The total fuel capacity of the aircraft is 675.2gal (2,555.2l). It can be refuelled in the air by using refuelling aircraft.
Rockwell Collins avionics
The C-12 Huron is equipped with Rockwell Collins avionics, including Collins WXR-850 weather radar, traffic collision alert and avoidance systems (TCAAS) and an integrated avionics processor system (IAPS).
The IAPS encompasses a dual FMS-3000 flight management system, a pair of GPS-4000A and an ADC-3000 air data computer. The aircraft is also integrated with a fifth MFD-255C for detecting weather conditions, flight plan and enhanced proximity warning system (EGPWS) to overlay information.
C-12 aircraft engine
The C-12 is powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42 turboprop engines, which can produce a continuous power of 635kW each.
The engines feature advanced aerodynamic and material technologies that allow them to gain more power without increasing size. The technologies also reduce emissions, thereby enhancing maintenance.
The engine is also equipped with a full authority digital electronic control (FADEC) feature, which reduces the workload of pilot and decrease fuel consumption.
The length and diameter of the engine is 66.9m and 19m respectively. It can produce a revolution per minute (rpm) of 2,000.
C-12 Huron performance
The C-12 Huron can climb at the rate of 12.5m/s. The maximum speed of the aircraft is 499km/h. Its range and service ceiling is 3,338km and 10,700m respectively. The wing loading of the C-12 is 201.6kg/m², while the maximum endurance of the aircraft is five to six hours. The C-12 weighs around 3,520kg and its maximum take-off weight is 7,755kg.
King Air 200-based variants
- C-12A: Used by the U.S. Army for liaison and attache transport. Based on the King Air A200 (serial numbers BC-1 through BC-61, BD-1 and up).
- UC-12B: U.S. Navy/U.S. Marine Corps version with an additional cargo door. Based on the King Air A200C (serial numbers BJ-1 and up).
- NC-12B: U.S. Navy single-aircraft version, UC-12B BuNo 161311 equipped with four P-3C type Sonobuoy launchers.
- TC-12B: U.S. Navy training version developed by conversion of UC-12B airframes.
- C-12C: U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force version of the C-12A with upgraded engines. Based on the King Air A200 (serial numbers BC-62 and up).
- C-12D: U.S. Army and U.S. 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).
- RC-12D: Special mission, SIGINT aircraft for the U.S. Army.
- UC-12D: Based on the King Air A200CT (serial numbers BP-7 though BP-11).
- C-12E: Upgraded C-12A aircraft for the USAF. 29 C-12As were retro-fitted with two Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42 turboprop engines.
- C-12F: U.S. 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: U.S. Navy version of the UC-12F modified with surface search radar.
- UC-12F: U.S. Navy version based on the King Air B200C (serial number BU-1 and up, BV-1 and up, BW-1 and up). Cockpit upgraded to Proline 21.
- RC-12G: U.S. 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). Previously operated by U.S. Army Reserve aviation units.
- RC-12H: Special mission, battlefield SIGINT aircraft for the U.S. Army.
- 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 U.S. Army as C-12Ls.
- UC-12M: U.S. Navy version. Cockpit upgraded to Proline 21.
- RC-12M: U.S. Navy version. Upgraded cockpit instrumentation, plus other systems and structural upgrades.
- C-12R: Off the shelf BE200 modified with EFIS glass cockpit instrumentation.
- C-12T: Upgrade of earlier U.S. Army C-12F versions with improved cockpit instrumentation.
- C-12U: Upgrade of U.S. Army C-12T versions with improved cockpit instrumentation in order to meet global air traffic management directives.
- RU-21J: Special mission, battlefield ELINT aircraft. Three A200s were brought by the U.S. Army for use in the Cefly Lancer program in the early 1970s.
- C-12V: Upgraded C-12R with Proline 21 FMS,
King Air 300-based variants
- MARSS: MULTI-INT ISR platform. The MARSS provides the commander with a multi-intelligence collection capability to accurately detect, identify, and report threat targets in near real-time. IMINT, COMINT and ELINT intercept capability. As of June 2010, 11 MARSS were created from outfitted Beechcraft King Air B-300 aircraft.
King Air 350-based variants
- C-12S: U.S. 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; originally 8 King Air 350s and 29 King Air 350ERs and ending with 42 350ERs (including one combat loss). In service since June 2009 in Iraq and Afghanistan and globally for USSOCOM. All aircraft were transferred to USSOCOM, US Army, and other US government agencies by 2015. The Royal Canadian Air Force ordered 3 similar, if not, exact variants.
- UC-12W: U.S. Navy version based on the King Air 350
- MC-12S (EMARSS-S): U.S. Army nomenclature for the modified MC-12W aircraft. EMARSS.
Beechcraft 1900-based variant
- C-12J: Used by the U.S. Air Force’s Pacific Air Forces, and Air Force Materiel Command. It carries 2 crew and 19 passengers. The C-12J is based on the Beechcraft 1900C and carries the serials UD-1 through UD-6.
The Air Force currently operates only 4 C-12Js. 3 are operated by the 459th Airlift Squadron at Yokota Air Base, Japan and 1 by the Air Force Materiel Command from Holloman AFB, New Mexico. The Army has C-12Js in use.
Special Military Variants
The following RC-12 variants, although similar to earlier RC-12’s based on the KA-200, represent specially built airframes that combined upgraded engines (1,100 shp PT6A-67) and structural upgrades (swapping the traditional KA-200/300/350 T-Tail for the 1900 modified T-Tail to compensate for torque and aerodynamics and having reinforced spars to compensate for the increased maximum gross weight – up to as high as 16,500 lbs).
- RC-12K, N, P: U.S. Army Guardrail Common Sensor system aircraft.
- RC-12X, X+: Intelligence-gathering platform. 14 ordered, the first delivered to the U.S. Army in January 2011.
|Length||43 ft 9 in (13.34 m)|
|Wingspan||54 ft 6 in (16.61 m)|
|Heigh||15 ft (4.6 m)|
|Wing area||303 sq ft (28.1 m2)|
|Empty weight||7,755 lb (3,518 kg)|
|Max take off weight||12,500 lb (5,670 kg)|
|Power plant (Dry thrust)||2 × Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-42 turboprop engines, 850 shp (630 kW) each|
|Power plant (Thrust with afterburner)|
|Maximum speed (Sea level)|
|Maximum speed (High altitude)||289 kn (333 mph, 535 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4,572 m)|
|Combat radius||1,450 nmi (1,670 mi, 2,690 km) C-12J|
|Ferry range||1,800 nmi (2,100 mi, 3,300 km) C-12J with maximum fuel and 45-minute reserve|
|Service ceiling||35,000 ft (11,000 m)|
|Rate of climb||2,450 ft/min (12.4 m/s)|
|Wing loading||41.3 lb/sq ft (202 kg/m2)|
|Design load factor|
- Australian Air Force – 12 C-12S.
- Hellenic Army
- Israeli Air Force
- Pakistan Air Force
- Royal Canadian Air Force to support Special Operations.
- United States