From ARIA to ARGUS - 40 Years Service
The support requirements for Apollo, compiled by NASA's Office of Manned Space Flight (OMSF), originally stated a need for twelve heavily instrumented, long-range, high-speed aircraft to supplement the telemetry and communication support to be provided by the Apollo ships. After program refinement that the aircraft requirement would be eight, six to be on station with two standby spares. 60-0375 was one of the original eight Apollo Range Instrumentation Aircraft stationed out of Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.
At the end of the Apollo program, 60-0375 transferred to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. With a new base came a new designation, Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft. After a long career as an ARIA aircraft, 60-0375 transferred to Kirkland Air Force Base, modified as ARGUS. As an ARGUS Aircraft, 60-0375 was the only Air Force C-135E capable of flying extended missions up to 50,000 feet.
This unique flying research laboratory disappeared from Kirtland, New Mexico, on April 18, 2001. The C-135E aircraft, sporting its distinctive Tasmanian devil nose decor, was flown to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Arizona, where it will be stored to await its final disposition. It flew its last data-gathering mission last summer, conducting atmospheric tests for the airborne laser program.
The Argus flight test program, a unique opportunity for the Air Force Research Laboratory, allowed its highly skilled scientists and engineers to take technological developments from the laboratory and test them in the field, according to Captain Craig Phillips, Argus mission operations chief. This flying research laboratory supported not only the Department of Defense but also the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Energy, and the airborne laser system program office.
Constructed C-135A-BN. Construction Number 18150.
Conversion to EC-135 with electrical and structural modifications at Douglas Aircraft, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
January 1, 1968
Aircraft Online and Operational as an Apollo Range Instrumentation Aircraft.
Apollo Moon Rock Express I & II
Transferred to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, 4950th Test Wing operational as an Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft.
June 30, 1982
Converted to EC-135E.
December 31, 1989
Converted to EC-135N.
November 1, 1992
Last inventory record WPAFB.
April 18, 2000
Left Kirkland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
April 18, 2001
AMARC as CA0129.
January 15, 2008
September 12, 2013
Source: Randy L. Losey