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NC-135W

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posted on Mar, 6 2017 @ 11:21 AM
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Originally built as a WC-135, C-135 tailnumber 61-2666 has since been converted to an NC-135W, the only one of its type, and transferred to the 645th MATS, Det 2 AFMC. It's based out of Greenville, Texas, where L3 uses it to support flight testing of RC-135V/W upgrades. In 2014, it deployed to Greece for a couple of days, apparently testing an upgrade against a real world system in the area. It was tracked from Texas to Greece, and back, but not while it was at Greece, so it apparently kept the transponder off while it was flying there. It was probably flying near Syria.

It appears that another Rivet Joint upgrade is in the works. Same40 is currently flying orbits from the Shreveport area, up to Oklahoma City, and back down. The last upgrade was apparently an internally carried mission system, as nothing unusual was seen on the external portion of the aircraft.


The NC-135W is a test-bed belonging to the 645th MATS (Material Squadron) Det. 2 AFMC (Air Force Material Command) used by L3 Communications Integrated Systems at Major Field, Greenville, Texas, to support flight testing for the RC-135 fleet.

The unique aircraft has recently completely a one-week deployment to Souda Bay, on the island of Crete, in the Mediterranean Sea. Using the radio callsign SAME 40, the NC-135W deployed to Souda via Bangor and RAF Mildenhall, on May 11.

Greece Deployment





posted on Mar, 6 2017 @ 11:34 AM
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Can't say much about the plane but I do feel sorry for the crew having to spend time in Bangor, i've been there and unless the gods were feeling good it would probably be raining so i'm sure the crew got a good opinion of British weather



posted on Mar, 6 2017 @ 11:36 AM
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a reply to: Maxatoria

They usually only stop there long enough for crew rest. They'll stay overnight, and then head on to points east.



posted on Mar, 6 2017 @ 11:45 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

An overnight is long enough. My fiancee is from Maine, and even to the locals, Bangor is seen as the sticks. For anything longer than an overnight, I'll bet even the hardened USAF crews find themselves wishing that the Langoliers would just come and end it all.

It really makes you feel for the guys who were stuck up in Presque Isle back when the SAC base was there.

EMMC runs a HEMS base with a really "fun" catchment area though. Still doesn't make it worth relocating there imho.



posted on Mar, 6 2017 @ 11:51 AM
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a reply to: Barnalby

We were up there in the 70s. Luckily I was too young to remember it before we left.



posted on Mar, 6 2017 @ 11:56 AM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

The only saving grace is that you're near Acadia. But from September through June, half the park is closed and Bar Harbor becomes this weird mix of fisherman, College of The Atlantic enviro-hippies, and the even more eccentric bio PhD's from Jackson Labs.



posted on Mar, 6 2017 @ 01:26 PM
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I feel bad for the flight crew on these missions. They're up to almost four hours of being tracked, doing nothing but an elongated figure 8 orbit. All they do is monitor the instruments and fly the pattern. They don't get the fun of detecting signals, and tracking them to break up the monotony.



posted on Mar, 6 2017 @ 01:39 PM
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Think we've got our Bangor mixed up, I'm used to the UK one and I think there's another one in the USA which did seem strange for such a short hop in the UK but perhaps it was a make sure the tanks were at 100% full before taking off over the Atlantic.



posted on Mar, 6 2017 @ 01:40 PM
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a reply to: Maxatoria

Yeah, there's a Bangor in Maine that is a usual stopping point before hopping across the Atlantic. They frequently do customs checks, or fuel stops there. It sucks though. In winter it's buried under snow that's occasionally insanely deep, and the rest of the year, there's not a damn thing to do for miles.


RAB

posted on Mar, 6 2017 @ 02:25 PM
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I were in Bangor airport in the 1990's and the airport were being rebuilt fun in December


RAB



posted on Mar, 8 2017 @ 11:13 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
I feel bad for the flight crew on these missions. They're up to almost four hours of being tracked, doing nothing but an elongated figure 8 orbit. All they do is monitor the instruments and fly the pattern. They don't get the fun of detecting signals, and tracking them to break up the monotony.


On that particular aircraft, being a flight crew member isn't so bad. No doubt you know the RJ fleet doesn't use the same conventional avionics as the rest of the 135 fleet, so there's always some system upgrade or software improvement evaluation going on. All that multi-million dollar electro-magic in the back end isn't worth jack if they don't know where they are at and what direction they are pointing. That heading/position data comes from the conventional systems up front and generates a need for constant improvements. So most times, they have their work cut out for them.

There are active duty flying billets for crew chiefs and avionics at Greenville and they are highly coveted. I went through the application process in 94 to fill an opening for the Comm-Nav/GC technician. Unfortunately I was taking beta blockers at the time and that medication disqualifies you from flight status. They recruit you and invite you to apply for those positions, so that was incredibly disappointing for me.

All the Det 2 flight crews that I knew in the 80s and 90s were retired RJ pilots, and navs. All were well accustomed to long monotonous flights.

One off-topic thing I've been wanting to ask you because you were at Hickam. I don't know what years you were there but did you know a crew chief named Curtis Berringer? He was at Offutt when I got back there after an overseas tour at Kadena, and spent time with us in the middle east during desert storm. Like most of the dedicated crew chiefs, he rotated in and out with his jet frequently over the course of the operation. He then went to Hickam about the time I was trying to get in to Greenville.



posted on Mar, 8 2017 @ 11:41 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: Maxatoria

Yeah, there's a Bangor in Maine that is a usual stopping point before hopping across the Atlantic. They frequently do customs checks, or fuel stops there. It sucks though. In winter it's buried under snow that's occasionally insanely deep, and the rest of the year, there's not a damn thing to do for miles.


We had to bingo there flying from Barcelona to Newark. Unexpected headwinds ate into the fuel reserves. Never got off the plane but it did make hit our connection to SFO exciting to say the least; Like an idiot I figured a 4 hour layover in newark would be enough..... Sheesh we had to OJ through the terminal



posted on Mar, 9 2017 @ 12:28 AM
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a reply to: vinceg

The name doesn't sound familiar, but it's been 10 years since I was there. By 94 I wasn't dealing as closely with the base guys, and we generally parked the RCs and stayed out of their way.



posted on Mar, 9 2017 @ 03:28 AM
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We Aussies have 2 x AP-3C which are 'black".

They look like every other AP-3C but there are some fast tracked technology on board and they deploy. The technology the boffins cobble together are not production standard, they dont have all the documentation or nuclear hardening or salt fog etc. that bumps the costs up, they just deploy and if it useful, it is given a project and they turn it into a production for the rest of the fleet.

I worked on two of the production projects, it is much, much harder and so much more expensive to get a Mil Spec unit than what these people create.

What makes it even harder is these airforce boffins sat there saying "we can do it for less than a tenth of that..."

Most on this group will know why selling a Mil Spec piece of Hardware from a Contractor perspective is inherently much more expensive than a boffin knocked up rig.



posted on Mar, 9 2017 @ 10:11 PM
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originally posted by: Forensick
We Aussies have 2 x AP-3C which are 'black".

They look like every other AP-3C but there are some fast tracked technology on board and they deploy. The technology the boffins cobble together are not production standard, they dont have all the documentation or nuclear hardening or salt fog etc. that bumps the costs up, they just deploy and if it useful, it is given a project and they turn it into a production for the rest of the fleet.

I worked on two of the production projects, it is much, much harder and so much more expensive to get a Mil Spec unit than what these people create.

What makes it even harder is these airforce boffins sat there saying "we can do it for less than a tenth of that..."

Most on this group will know why selling a Mil Spec piece of Hardware from a Contractor perspective is inherently much more expensive than a boffin knocked up rig.



And that in a nutshell, is how and why the Big Safari program came into existence in the states. They have their own procurement channels and do specialized engineering to meet those high priority, no-notice demands. I think that's what you mean by a "boffin knocked up rig" if I am not mistaken? We used to see that in the RC-135U Combat Sent aircraft where custom consoles would literally appear overnight for special purpose missions, and then just as quickly be removed. The RC-135 program in general though suffers from more management and oversight than typical Big Safari projects.

For anyone interested in how the logistics work for these specialized aircraft projects work, there is a pretty good book titled "The History of Big Safari". It is not an in-depth look at black aircraft, but rather a history of how the organization was created and evolved because of the need to produce special purpose aircraft on short notice.

The book does have a chapter on the subject aircraft for this thread, triple 6. The article Zaphod posted doesn't really convey the effort involved getting that aircraft into operation in it's current role. The first time I saw it, it was fresh out of the boneyard and was in sorry shape. The Det in Greenville tore it down and rebuilt it from the ground up. The prime contractor there, whether its L3 Communications, or its predecessors Raytheon and E-Systems before them (the people are always the same), does some amazing work.



posted on Mar, 9 2017 @ 10:56 PM
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a reply to: vinceg

It's always amazing to see what the guys restoring these birds to flight can do. Now if we could only get them working at Tinker instead.



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