The American WC-135W aircraft designed to “sniff out” the radiation associated with the use of nuclear weapons has arrived in the UK.
The WC-135 ‘Constant Phoenix’ landed at RAF Mildenhall this morning and was a rare visitor to the UK.
Previously, air sample surveys were routinely conducted in the Far East, the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, the Mediterranean, the polar regions, and along the coasts of South America and Africa. The plane usually does not stay in one area for long before returning to the United States. As mentioned above, this is a rare deployment and this type of aircraft flew to the UK in August last year.
The US Air Force’s WC-135W ‘Constant Phoenix’, called ATOM01, arrived in the UK this morning. The aircraft is a “nuclear sniffer” that is tasked with testing the atmosphere for evidence of a nuclear explosion. pic.twitter.com/gI53aLPJqh
– George Allison (ியோ Geolison) January 30, 2022
Most importantly, in 2017, an airplane was sent to the RAF Miltonhall site to carry out missions in Europe after air quality stations across the continent detected traces of radioactive iodine-131.
Historically, the WC-135W Fleet played a key role in monitoring radioactive debris from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in the Soviet Union.
According to the U.S. Air Force, its mission is to collect atmospheric samples for the purpose of detecting and identifying nuclear explosions.
‘Constant Phoenix’ has a collection of atmosphere collections that allow mission crews to detect radioactive “clouds” in real time. The aircraft filter is equipped with a compressor system for external flow devices to collect particles on the paper and bulk air samples collected in the retention spheres.
UK Defense Journal
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