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Usaf 737-200 Flying With B-2: Which Variant?

Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:00 am

This photo was taken at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, CA on February 24th. A B-2 and 737-200 from the Air Force were flying in formation back and forth over the valley floor for several hours that morning and I managed to get a shot off as they flew overhead.

The 732 appears to be an electronic warfare platform with what look like radomes on the nose and tail. Does anyone know what model it is?

Note: Edited for spelling.

[Edited 2009-02-27 00:02:11]
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RE: Usaf 737-200 Flying With B-2: Which Variant?

Fri Feb 27, 2009 11:58 am

Some googling brought up this:

In mid-2000 the Lockheed Martin Advanced Prototype Center, part of the Advanced Development Programs' (ADP) organization, handed over its first major deliverable -- a flight-worthy composite structure -- on the center's first design and fabrication contract. The structure, a 19-foot long, 6.2-foot diameter fairing and bulkhead assembly, was delivered to customer DENMAR Inc. The prime contractor Denmar is a company specializing in stealth technology. The "Den" stands for President Denys Overholser, the former Skunk Works engineer credited with devising the shape of the first stealth aircraft. The assembly provides an aerodynamic transition from the existing aft fuselage of a T-43 aircraft, a modified Boeing 737-200, to an oversized radome. The aircraft serves as a Radar Test Bed (RTB) for future Air Force programs. The design, fabrication and machining of the structure's components were all performed at Palmdale. The structure is made of a 90-percent carbon epoxy/honeycomb sandwich material, with machined aluminum parts, and houses an airborne radar assembly. The contract with DENMAR also included the design and fabrication of three radomes for the RTB aircraft. Each radome is more than 6.5 feet in diameter and 9 feet in length.

So it seems to be a highly modified T-43 being used as a radar test bed.

That seems very consistent with the observations above: the USAF would be quite interested in the B2s radar characteristics, right?
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RE: Usaf 737-200 Flying With B-2: Which Variant?

Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:45 pm

It's known as the NT-43A.

Here is the actual aircraft before the conversion:

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Photo © Gary Chambers

A lot more information here.

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RE: Usaf 737-200 Flying With B-2: Which Variant?

Sat Feb 28, 2009 6:09 pm

Thanks very much for the information, guys.

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