US Air Force 55th Wing – Offutt Air Force Base Receives First WC-135R Constant Phoenix
Crew Offutt welcomed a brand new plane to its fleet for the primary time in a long time when WC-135R Fixed Phoenix tail quantity 64-14836 arrived on the Lincoln Airport July 11, 2022. That is the primary of three WC-135R deliveries to the fifty fifth Wing because the Air Power is modifying KC-135R Stratotankers to switch the getting older WC-135C/W fleet. Operated and maintained by the forty fifth Reconnaissance Squadron in assist of the twenty first Surveillance Squadron, Detachment 1 international mission, it should function the Air Power’s latest atmospheric assortment plane. Initially delivered to the Air Power in 1964 and most lately flown by the New Hampshire Air Nationwide Guard, the plane was modified to a WC-135R in Greenville, Texas, by the 645th Aeronautical Methods Group, higher often called Massive Safari. It arrives to Offutt with a brand-new cockpit and the identical 4 excessive bypass turbofan engines as the remainder of the wing’s 135 fleet.
“We have now a jet right here that the Air Power hasn’t seen earlier than,” stated Lt. Col. Chris Crouch, forty fifth RS commander. “This is sort of a KC-135 with no growth, so it’s much more aerodynamic. While you add the facility of these engines and the decrease weight of this jet, you’ve got an plane that’s rather more gas environment friendly. We can have much more vary to get to op areas that we have been by no means capable of attain earlier than.”
“This can be a monumental second for us and for AFTAC [Air Force Technical Applications Center],” stated Col. Kristen Thompson, fifty fifth Wing commander. “The WC is the truest definition of a low-density, high-demand platform within the Air Power. It’s arrival right here at Lincoln as the primary of three plane to be delivered is a recreation changer.”
Along with its capabilities, this new jet additionally allows the forty fifth to open its aperture to an entire new group of aircrew members, which is able to assist with deployment taskings. Additionally reveling within the jet’s new arrival is twenty first SURS Det. 1, whose Airmen function particular gear on the plane. Their mission is to gather particulates and gaseous effluents and particles from accessible areas of the environment in assist of the Restricted Nuclear Check Ban Treaty of 1963. Traditionally, the WC-135R Fixed Phoenix fleet has solely consisted of two jets, so including a 3rd to the combination will likely be large for the general mission. The Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth retired one among its two WC-135C/Ws in November 2020. The final one, tail quantity 2667, will stay operational till this fall. The subsequent WC-135R supply is scheduled for someday this winter, with the ultimate jet arriving in the summertime of 2023.
The WC-135 Fixed Phoenix is a special-purpose plane derived from the Boeing C-135 Stratolifter and utilized by the US Air Power. Its mission is to gather samples from the environment for the aim of detecting and figuring out nuclear explosions. Additionally it is informally known as the “climate fowl” or “the sniffer” by employees on this system and worldwide media respectively. The Fixed Phoenix’s modifications are primarily associated to the plane’s on-board atmospheric assortment suite, which permits the mission crew to detect radioactive particles “clouds” in actual time. The plane is provided with exterior flow-through gadgets to gather particulates on filter paper and a compressor system for entire air samples collected in high-pressure holding spheres. Regardless of the totally different designations, each the C and W carry the identical mission gear (just like the RC-135V and W plane).
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