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Since 2008, the jet had served as a safety chase aircraft during test and evaluation flights of the E-2D Hawkeye, P-8A Poseidon and MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system.
Because this shock wave is actually a cone surrounding the supersonic XB-70, a chase aircraft will also experience a different effect on the wing nearest the XB-70 while flying in the shock wave.
The Tomahawk missile was followed by a chase aircraft which could take control in an emergency.
The P-3 will then be pursued by chase aircraft equipped with captive-carry IR missiles.
A chase aircraft participated in the flight test and validated the Pilot Director Light (PDL) system functionality from a pre-contact position, representing key milestone events leading to the eventual testing of the refueling boom with a receiver aircraft in the full contact position.