So apparently, this aircraft is currently being operated by Raytheon for some Naval research and development program. What I can't figure out is how it could possibly be advantagous to unearth and maintain an old dinosaur like this, when any number of cheaper and easier-to-maintain testbed aircraft are widely available. For example, I'm sure it would be a lot easier to find an old 737-200 on which to mount the special nosecone and canoe fairing. Also, I've seen pics of Sabreliners with F-16 nosecones. Certain Sabreliner parts may be difficult to come by, but finding EA-3 parts must be like hunting down parts for an '83 Renault Fuego.
Obviously, it was determined that this aircraft is ideal for their test purposes. My question is, what does this aircraft bring to the table that others can't?
It could possibly be due to its cockpit configuration, but if you need a cockpit equipped with ejection seats, there are more economical options. The other unique advantage this aircraft offers is the ability to operate from carriers....which I can't imagine it's currently doing.....
AeroWeanie From United States of America, joined Dec 2004, 1610 posts, RR: 52
Reply 3, posted (10 years 4 months 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 2672 times:
Modifying an airliner for test purposes can be quite difficult, as their structures are optimized for airline usage. The A-3 on the other hand is built for carrier use and the structure is incredibly strong and hence easy to modify. The A-3 also has a lot of electrical generation capability and usable internal volume.
Raytheon uses the A-3s for all kinds of airborne electronics testing. 74 has an F-15 nose, 75 has a big ventral radome and 77 has an F-14 nose. Raytheon also has a 727-200 with an F-15 nose, while Northrop Grumman has three BAC 1-11s and a 737-200 that they use for airborne electronics testing. Thales has a DC-9 that they use for similar testing.
Efohdee From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 214 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (10 years 4 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 2564 times:
Those A-3's have been used as test beds for some time. They were originally used by Hughes Aircraft, based at the now obliterated Culver City airport. They were the original launching platform for the Hughes AIM-54 Phoenix missile during testing by Hughes and the Navy. Raytheon inherited the A-3's when they acquired Hughes Space and Electronics years ago. They probably have low airframe hours since they dont fly much and are likely well taken care of.
Pilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3152 posts, RR: 10
Reply 5, posted (10 years 4 months 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 2480 times:
For higher speeds that these aircraft are capable of?
Boeing uses a P-80 to record test flights. It's painted red. It's been in STL a bit lately flying with the F-15E program. The airforce also has boneyards full of old F-4s, and other dinosaurs pickled out in the desert that are being converted to target drones and pillaged for parts. They flew two into STL freshly painted for the Boeing family picnic this past summer.
SlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 67
Reply 6, posted (10 years 4 months 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 2479 times:
Pilotpip are you sure the Boeing plane isn't a T-33? The P-80 is an extremely rare airplane. I've only seen three of them in my life, and not one of these had flown in thirty years.
P-80 is a single seater, with the tip tanks slung under the wings instead of at the midline. They might not have the louvers above and below the intakes as duct rumble was discovered after they went into production.
Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
NRA-3B From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 170 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (10 years 4 months 5 days ago) and read 2443 times:
Try doing some air to air combat maneuvers with a 737 or 727. Or simulating the behavior of a missile, air-to-air or air-to-ground. The A-3 comes closer than any other non-fighter aircraft for this job. They might be old, but they still fly well and get the job done quite a bit cheaper than the larger testbeds.