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
I lived at KAF for a year NOV10-NOV11, and saw this thing all the time – it is actually very silent, contrary to user “Cabbro” below. There was a U-2 taking off at night that was louder than the French Mirage 2000 fleet (by far the loudest take off happened dozens of times during any given day), it ran exclusively on night missions along with the Long Wing running day or night; both flown with CIA oversight.
My company, DynCorp, Intl., just finished the maintenance and retro-fit work. According to our own article, it has the full 60,000 ft ceiling ;)