STEAD, NV - Normally the Army doesn't fly planes, but a group from northern Nevada that is set to deploy next month will protect ground troops from high in the sky. Their weapons won't be bombs or guns; but cameras, sensors, and a laptop.
Their plane is much smaller than an average war bird. But when the MC-12 goes wheels up, its mission is just as important.
"It's intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance," said Craig Kennison, a Sensor Operator.
On board it looks like your average plane. But the one they'll be flying in Afghanistan is fitted with top secret cameras and sensors.
"We can go in, we can do imagery, we can do video, we can do various other capabilities that are classified," said Staff Sgt. Luther Wheeler.
"We'll find the target on the ground and we'll do a 2-mile orbit around it. So we'll be about 20,000 feet in the air. Two miles away and we'll be able to see them as if we were standing on top of the GSR," said Specialist Kenneth Wheeler.
They're looking for things like IEDs or Al Qaeda strongholds. They gather intelligence and pass it on to crews on the ground who take action.
"It can definitely get stressful up in the air. You definitely have a very large impact on ground forces and your job can definitely impact someone else's life dramatically," said Kennison.
The most dangerous thing they'll do is takeoff and landing. Above Lake Tahoe on Wednesday, two career pilots showed their prowess at the helm.
"I'll be actually relieved when we get there because most of the work is here preparing for the mobilization," said Commander Glen Spadin.
After months of training, they're ready for their mission, and in mid-June they'll start defending the troops who defend our freedom.
The 45th detachment leaves for Fort Bliss on June 6th. After about 10 days there, they'll ship off to Afghanistan.