RC-135S Cobra Ball

RC-135S Cobra Ball
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By kjfitz @ 2007-04-01 18:11:23
(Note the one white and one black wing. That isn't a shading artifact - they really are different colors.)

(Same plane seen in flight here.

The RC-135S Cobra Ball is a United States Air Force reconnaissance aircraft equipped with special optical instruments designed to observe ballistic missile flights at long range. The aircraft is an extensively modified C-135 Stratolifter. There are two aircraft in service and they are part of the 55th Wing, 45th Reconnaissance Squadron based at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Cobra Ball aircraft were originally assigned to Shemya, Alaska and used to observe ballistic missile tests on the Kamchatka peninsula in conjunction with Cobra Dane and Cobra Judy.
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jbottero picture
@ 2007-04-01 23:08:20
Is one wing painted black? Or is that just a visual effect?
kjfitz picture
@ 2007-04-01 23:28:51
One is black. There are optical instruments on that side used to track ICBMs. The black (I assume) minimizes reflected light that might interfere with the optical instruments.
Anonymous picture
@ 2007-04-03 23:08:03
The starboard wing was originally painted flat black in order to mininimize reflection the could have affected the optical sensors. The sensors have been upgraded in the past several decades such that the reflection is no longer a concern, but the starboard wing is kept black because of tradition. I used to fly missions in the back end of -662 back in the 80's & 90's.
Anonymous picture
@ 2007-08-07 00:39:56
Google: "A Tale of Two Airplanes" by Kingdon R. Hawes
Anonymous picture
@ 2008-04-06 18:01:40
Go To: "A Tale of Two Airplanes" by Kingdon R. "King" Hawes @ RC135.com