Dorr, Robert F., Air Power History
Our spring mystery aircraft, as many Air Power History readers knew, was the Air Force's E-9A "Widget" airborne telemetry platform. The E-9A is the only U.S. military version of the De Havilland Dash-8 (or DHC-8) airliner, also known as the Bombardier Q100.
Our background on the commercial version comes from The Vital Guide to Airliners, by Robert Hewson: The Dash-8 was developed as a 36 to 39 seat passenger aircraft for regional carriers and made its first flight on June 20, 1983. The Dash-8's next milestone, its first airline revenue flight, took place on December 19, 1984. The Canadian manufacturer, now known as Bombardier, has built about 500 Dash-8s.
The military E-9A "Widget" is based on the DHC-8-100 model and is configured as missile/drone range control aircraft, modified with ANAPS-128D sea surveillance radar manufactured by Telephonics in a ventral dome, and with a large electronically steered phased array radar, designed and installed by Georgia Tech Research Institute, in the fuselage side.
Two E-9As are operated by a mix of civilian and military personnel of the 82d Aerial Target Squadron, a component of the 53d Weapons Evaluation Group (formerly the 475th Weapons Evaluation Group), at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
Retired Air Force Col. C.R. "Dick" Anderegg, who commanded the 475th group from 1991 to 1994, said the E-9A provides ocean surface surveillance of the missile range in the Gulf of Mexico. …