Sure, you’ve heard of the U-2 and the SR-71. But have you heard of the Dash-7?
I was poking around one of my usual online stops and came across this story:
The US military has planes like F-22A stealth fighters that make a lot of news. It also has planes that make very little news, even though they play key roles in a number of conflicts around the world. One example is the RC-7B/EO-5B “Crazy Hawk”/ Airborne Reconnaissance Low aircraft, who use their short-field takeoff capabilities and array of imaging, signals collection, and radar sensors to monitor developments on the ground.
The Army operates the RC-7B/EO-5B aircraft. They are converted from DeHavilland Canada DASH-7 commuter airliners.
They were originally intended to support counter-narcotics operations in South America. Mostly by listening to the druggies communications. A similar program using specially built Beechcraft turboprops is supporting operations in Iraq and Afghanistan under a program called Task Force Odin/Constant Hawk.
I mainly posted this because I was in my office one day with a coworker who was an aviation enthusiast and a former Army aviation crewmember. I looked out the window onto the parking ramp of the airport next door and there sat a RC-7. I called out to my coworker and asked if he wanted to see a spyplane. He didn’t believe me when I told him what it was. He figured it must be a private plane. A quick google search of the registration number came back showing the owner as “US GOVERNMENT”, but was pretty thin on info after that…
As a side note, one of my coworkers as a recruiter was an intel guy. He didn’t mention working directly with these, but I know he did a lot of imagery analysis, which would come from these. His tours in South America included being stationed on a barge anchored in a harbor to keep the curious away.