December 07, 2023

U.S. sampling plane to investigate N. Korean nuke test

Specialized aircraft can help to verify the type of weapon detonated by North Korea

The United States Air Force (USAF) will deploy a specialized aircraft near the Korean Peninsula to collect air samples from the fallout of North Korea’s recent nuclear test, the Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing an anonymous official from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The WC-135 Constant Phoenix, of which there are two in the U.S. Air Force (USAF) is a specially modified aircraft based on the C-135 (Boeing 707) airframe. The WC-135 is fitted with a suite of equipment to collect and analyze “particulate and gaseous effluents and debris from accessible regions of the atmosphere” in order to verify nuclear weapons tests. They are currently the only aircraft in the USAF inventory which can conduct air sampling.