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​A WC-135W Constant Phoenix aircraft performs touch and go landing exercises at Offutt AFB, Neb., Feb 12, 2009. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger.

​The Air Force will deploy a WC-135 Constant Phoenix to test for radiation near North Korea in an effort to determine whether the communist country actually did detonate its first thermonuclear weapon, reported the Washington Post, citing an anonymous defense official. The Constant Phoenix is a modified C-135 equipped with air sampling and collection equipment, making it capable of sampling particulates and gaseous atmospheric debris. The aircraft has external flow-through devices to collect particulates on filter paper and a compressor system for sample holding. The Air Force’s two WC-135s, which are operated by Air Combat Command and are based at Offutt AFB, Neb., are used to verify international nuclear test ban treaty compliance. Cockpit crews are assigned to the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron while special equipment operators are assigned to Det. 1 at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, both at Offutt. For more about the aircraft, view the Gallery of Weapons in Air Force Magazine’s Almanac. (Note: You must be an AFA member to access the Almanac online.)