“New” 41-year old WB-57 Canberra joins NASA fleet of high altitude special operations aircraft

On Sept. 12, NASA’s latest WB-57F, a 41-year old plane with registration N927NA arrived to Ellington Field, Texas, were it joined the other two flying WB-57Fs, NASA 926 and 928.

The aircraft arrived at its final destination after leaving the paint shop in Pinal Airpark Airport Marana, Arizona.

Based at Ellington Field, Texas, but often deployed to different bases, both within CONUS and abroad and, NASA’s Canberras conduct “special operations” alongside scientific research projects (on hurricanes, radiation impact on clouds, and so on).

In Afghanistan these unique aircraft have been used to test Northrop Grumman’s Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) a technological “gateway” system that allows aircraft with incompatible radio systems and datalinks to transfer information and communicate.

Even if the new aircraft has not been allocated to the BACN program yet, it is quite likely it will soon support its twin Canberras in high altitude relay missions above the U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Image credit: Christopher A. Ebdon

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.