The OC-135B Open Skies United States Air Force observation aircraft supports the Treaty on Open Skies. The aircraft, a modified WC-135B, flies unarmed observation flights over participating parties of the treaty. Three OC-135B aircraft were modified by the Aeronautical Systems Center's 4950th Test Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. The first operationally capable OC-135B was assigned to the 24th Reconnaissance Squadron at Offutt AFB in October 1993. It is now fitted with a basic set of navigational and sensor equipment, and placed in inviolate storage at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Arizona. Two fully operational OC-135B aircraft were delivered in 1996 with the full complement of treaty allowed sensors, which includes an infrared line scanner, synthetic aperture radar and video scanning sensors.
Description of aircraft
The interior seats 35 people, including the cockpit crew, aircraft maintenance crew, foreign country representatives and crew members from the U.S. Department of Defense's Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Cameras installed include one vertical and two oblique KS-87E framing cameras used for low-altitude photography approximately 3,000 feet (900 m) above the ground, and one KA-91C panoramic camera, which scans from side to side to provide a wide sweep for each picture used for high altitude photography at approximately 35,000 feet (10,000 m).
The data annotation and recording system (DARMS) processes navigational, altitude, time and camera signals to annotate each picture with correct position, altitude, time, roll angle and other information. In addition, this system records every picture taken according to camera, frame and navigational position and downloads these data to a 3.5-inch floppy disk. A keyboard with trackball is the input device for operation of this system. Two Barco 12-inch VGA color monitors display camera annotation and other camera data on screen for the sensor operator and observer use.
Camera control, located in the sensor operator's console, operates and adjusts individual cameras for cloud cover, frame overlap and other functions. The sensor operator console seats four and has all the equipment listed above plus camera bay heating control, chronometers, emergency oxygen, interphone and individual lighting. The flight following console also seats four and includes most of the equipment listed above except for DARMS and camera controls.
Seven commercial Norcoid Tek II coolers with individual refrigeration units maintain temperature and humidity control to maintain peak film performance. The units can be removed, if necessary, from the aircraft in order to transport film. The coolers are capable of storing 40,000 feet (12 km) of film.
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