NASA Armstrong Preparing New Chase Aircraft


An F/A-18D slated to join the chase aircraft fleet at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center has gotten a new paint scheme and is nearing approval to fly. Designated NASA 862, the aircraft will be used to chase the X-59 Quiet SuperSonic Technology (QueSST) demonstrator, which is expected to fly for the first time later this year. NASA 862 will also “provide a platform for videographers and photographers to document flights.”

“We’re excited to have this aircraft in our fleet,” said Jack Ly, NASA Armstrong flight operations engineer. “Our hope is in the next couple of months we will be able to integrate more instrumentation to support more missions.”

NASA acquired the F/A-18D from the U.S. Navy in 2021 following a search aimed at replacing Armstrong’s F/A-18Bs. The agency noted that weight and balance checks have been completed and the aircraft’s initial airworthiness review will likely take place later this month. According to NASA, it expects NASA 862 will have a life span of around 40 years based on the intended use at Armstrong.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. FYI, NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center is located at Edwards AFB, CA, a helpful detail omitted from the article.

  2. Thank you, Rich A., I was wondering the same thing. I know people at NASA and have customers that work with NASA throughout the US and was wondering if any of their paths would cross with this aircraft.

  3. The F-18D was used by the Marine Corps. I know the Navy technically owned it, but don’t forget the Marines.