Sunday, July 21, 2024

US Army’s MARSS QRC spy plane retires following 20 years of service

The U.S. Army is preparing to officially retire the final Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (MARSS) Quick Reaction Capability (QRC) aircraft after approximately 20 years of dedicated service.

The final aircraft are currently in the Continental United States (CONUS) undergoing de-modification to remove all the aerial ISR equipment. The aircraft will officially retire from U.S. military service by March 2022.

The U.S. Army has revealed that it ceased missions of the final three aircraft in the long history of the Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System (MARSS) Quick Reaction Capability (QRC) fleet on Sept. 30, 2021.


Beginning with MARSS 1 supporting U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in the early 2000s, the Project Director Sensors-Aerial Intelligence (PD SAI) built 20 MARSS aircraft to support aerial intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR) missions with deployments to sites around the world. The MARSS aircraft offered support in U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) and U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) in U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) as well as peacekeeping missions in U.S. European Command (EUCOM).

Although the specific sensors of the MARSS QRCs changed over the approximate 20 years of service to meet emerging threats and mission needs, the principal capabilities of the fleet included signals intelligence (SIGINT), full-motion video (FMV), and high resolution imagery (HRI) sensors.

With the drawdown of other Army assets in CENTCOM early in 2021 and the resulting divestment of the seven MARSS aircraft deployed there in support of INSCOM, the three MARSS aircraft supporting SOCOM operations in CENTCOM became the last three operational assets in the MARSS fleet until complete operations ceased in the fall of 2021.

Modified from commercial King Air 300 aircraft, dating back to 2009, the final three aircraft provided SOCOM with operational support for about 90 missions per month resulting in more than 130,000 flying hours at the time of their retirement.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Colton Jones
Colton Jones
Colton Jones is the deputy editor of Defence Blog. He is a US-based journalist, writer and publisher who specializes in the defense industry in North America and Europe. He has written about emerging technology in military magazines and elsewhere. He is a former Air Force airmen and served at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.



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