Sometimes you find the oddest things by the road. Just outside NAS Whidbey Island, there is a drop tank sitting by the road. I have no idea what it is doing there. It seems to be on someone’s yard. The shape was not something that looked like a Navy tank (which you might expect). I thought it looked like something from an F-111. Fortunately, It had a data plate which showed a serial that seems to suggest a Fort Worth General Dynamics product so I guess F-111 is probably it. Anyone know the story?
The early versions of jets are often repurposed throughout their life. They serve a role for testing but they are not configured like production jets and to make them so is too expensive to be worthwhile. Besides, they are instrumented to some extent so they can be useful for carrying out alternate tests. As a result, they often get used for trials, research tasks or development of alternate concepts. The early F-16s did a lot of this sort of work and ended up in some odd programs like the AFTI effort. Sitting outside at the Frontiers of Flight museum is one of these test aircraft. It spent its life with General Dynamics (now Lockheed Martin) at Fort Worth and, once it was done with, it found a new home at the museum. Compared to the average F-16, this jet will have had a lot of interesting experiences!