The NC-135W (61-2666) was flown from Greenville Municipal Airport-Majors Field in Texas – which is home to a L3Harris Mission Integration Division (MID) aircraft modification facility – to the famous Boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, where it will be placed in long-term storage with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) – on September 5. This final Stratolifter had been operated by the 645th Aeronautical Systems Squadron, with the aircraft serving as a Big Safari testbed for the USAF’s fleet of RC-135V/W Rivet Joint intelligence-gathering aircraft.
This aircraft initially entered operational USAF service under the C-135B designation on March 30, 1962. It was later modified to WC-135B/W-standard to undertake weather reconnaissance operations, before the aircraft assumed its current NC-135W designation for the Big Safari mission in 1999. The NC-135W has been replaced in the Big Safari role by a single TC-135W (62-4133), which arrived at the L3Harris facility in Greenville in February 2023.