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New flying lab for Navy test pilots



The United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, has taken delivery of its Airborne Systems Training and Research Support (ASTARS) III aircraft, a new flying classroom.

ASTARS III is a tailored C-26A Metroliner equipped with military equipment and subsystems for students to familiarize themselves with the aircraft and its systems in a simulation lab before flying airborne for the first time, which increases the efficiency of flight time spent with instructors in the air. The USNTPS’ original ASTARS was based on a P-3 Orion; ASTARS II is a leased Saab 340 and the contract will end in fall 2018.

The C-26A is a former counter-narcotics aircraft. Its upgrade was a group effort between the USNTPS, AIRWorks, The Tactical Airlift, Adversary and Support Aircraft program office (PMA-207), and M7 Aerospace, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems of America, with the aircraft being modified in San Antonio, Texas.

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