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.