Photo © Ralph Duenas
Photo © Gerhard Plomitzer
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.....