Sunday, January 8, 2012

Was US Air Force WC135W "Constant Phoenix" on a Mission Somewhere In or Around Japan?

(UPDATE: The person who tweeted the tweet below says the Katena base has one WC135C, and a WC135W flew in on January 7. He speculates they may be deployed to monitor the Chinese nuclear testing later this month.)

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The information is unconfirmed.

The WC135 Constant Phoenix is "is a special purpose aircraft derived from the Boeing C-135 and used by the United States Air Force. Its mission is to collect samples from the atmosphere for the purpose of detecting and identifying nuclear explosions." (Wiki)

There's a chatter on Twitter in Japan that one of the WC135W Constant Phoenix flew in on January 7, 2012 and landed on the Kadena US Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture.

This tweet says:

米空軍で2機しか保有していない大気中の放射性物質を採取する大気観測機WC135W(コンタクト・フェニックス)が7日、嘉手納に飛来。って・・・これだったのか

The WC135W (Contact [sic] Phoenix) flew in to Kadena on January 7. The US Air Force owns only 2 WC135W. Was that about this?

By "this", he refers to the site that has the air radiation level measurement around Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

However, on checking the Kadena Air Base website, I find that one WC135 is stationed in Kadena, and operates out of Kadena.

So, I would take the tweet above to mean that the Constant Phoenix came back to the base from a mission to collect atmospheric samples for radiation somewhere. It could be Fukushima, where a spike in radioactive cesium fallout was measured on January 2, it could be North Korea which looks precarious under the new "dear leader", or could be Pakistan, or further afield.

From Wiki:

The WC135 Constant Phoenix is "is a special purpose aircraft derived from the Boeing C-135 and used by the United States Air Force. Its mission is to collect samples from the atmosphere for the purpose of detecting and identifying nuclear explosions. It is also informally referred to as the "weather bird" or "the sniffer" by workers on the program."

The WC-135W (tail number 61-2667) is a modified C-135B. The WC-135C (tail number 62-3582) is an extensively modified former EC-135C Looking Glass aircraft. The Constant Phoenix’s modifications are primarily related to the aircraft's on-board atmospheric collection suite, which allows the mission crew to detect radioactive debris "clouds" in real time. The aircraft is equipped with external flow-through devices to collect particulates on filter paper and a compressor system for whole air samples collected in high-pressure holding spheres.

The interior seats 33 people, including the cockpit crew, maintenance personnel, and special equipment operators from the Air Force Technical Applications Center. On operational sorties, the crew is minimized to just pilots, navigator, and special equipment operators, to reduce radiation exposure to mission-essential personnel only.

The Constant Phoenix WC-135 aircraft serves as an aerial collection platform for the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) at Patrick AFB, Florida, supporting the detection and identification of debris from nuclear weapons detonations. Two Constant Phoenix aircraft, a WC-135W (AF Serial Number 61-2667) and a WC-135C (AF Serial Number 62-3582) are currently assigned to the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron, 55th Wing at Offutt AFB, Nebraska. This mission was previously conducted by a WC-135W, AF Serial Number 61-2665, which was retired in September 1996. Previously, as many as ten WC-135B weather reconnaissance airplanes flew in support of weather analysis, nuclear detection, and other scientific research.

7 comments:

Steve From Virginia said...

Pretty silly, the Americans could detect radiation @Fukushima by going to the airport near Tokyo and renting a car.

Steveo said...

For some places like ENENEWS, SKF, Big Arnie, they are providing information that you cannot get on main stream media. There is no charge for this hard work.
They can get advertising revenue from their websites, and this might be modest, but it helps, there are costs and time involved.

Consider visiting sponsors that catch your eye and have products you might use. The blogs get financial benefit even if you don't purchase. Like a TV ad, you don't have to buy, but the advertiser pays to get their message out. I sure wish that more HEPA filters, radiation detectors, and the like started advertising on these sites, we can really use that stuff.

Mauibrad said...

Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

"It could be Fukushima, where a spike in radioactive cesium fallout was measured on January 2, it could be North Korea which looks precarious under the new "dear leader", or could be Pakistan, or further afield."

How about going out on a training flight? I don't know the actual numbers, but I'd guess that every military aircraft (besides the transporters) does training at well over 90% of its scheduled flights.
If that plane is stationed at Kadena, one would assume that it has to take off and land every once in a while for training purposes. That's the US Air Force, not the North Korean Air Force which's grounded all year round because of fuel shortage.
Or do you suspect nuclear war every time the Looking Glass plane goes airborne?

farfromhome said...

Of course the US is monitoring on their own. It is not like GOJ or TEPCO is or has been giving out accurate inoformation. There are U.S. troops, assets(i.e. ships and planes) and families in Japan.

However in my opinion the US military has done a pathetic job in terms of assisting those troops and families with food and water safety in Japan. Basically it is not being talked about at all and Japanese produce is being pushed at the commissaries. For sure there will be many American children who lived in Japan at this time developing cancers as well.....

Anonymous said...

Of course it was used, don't be ridiculous.

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