Beechcraft - RU-21a Ute
Serial Number - 67-18113
The US Army ordered the Beechcraft Model A-90 for military duty as the U-21A. A total of 110 were built from 1966-1968. Powered by Pratt & Whitney PT6A-20 engines rated at 550 shp, most of the airplanes eventually served with the U.S. Army in Southeast Asia, operated primarily as transports, radio relay, and surveillance aircraft. Non-pressurized, the A90-1 featured square windows and a large cargo door combined with the standard airstrip door.
The museum example is designated as an RU-21A, an Airborne Radio Direction Finding aircraft, one of 9 aircraft of the Cefirm Leader Electronic Warfare system. First operational in 1972, the aircraft was assigned to the 1st Army Security Agency Aviation Company, out of Fort Bliss, Texas, where the system was deployed twice to the Return of Forces to Germany (REFORGER) exercises, and a JACK FROST exercise in Alaska. In 1980, the Cefirm Leader system was assigned to the 138th Aviation Company (EW), a US Army Reserve unit in Orlando, Florida.
In 1982, this particular aircraft saw service in Honduras performing classified missions as the United States ramped up its intelligence capabilities against the Communist insurgencies in Central America. Additionally, the aircraft participated in the Bright Star 85 exercise in Egypt, and flew many Peacetime Aerial Reconnaissance (PARPRO) and Counter Drug missions in the late 1980s. In 1990, the 138th Aviation Company was activated for Operation Desert Shield, and this aircraft flew hundreds of combat missions from bases in Saudi Arabia collecting Signals Intelligence information against Iraqi forces during Desert Storm.
In 1993, the system was deactivated, and the aircraft was sitting in at the JW Duff Aircraft Salvage yard in Stapleton, Colorado for almost 20 years until obtained by Dynamic Aviation of Bridgewater, Virginia, who then donated the aircraft to the 138th Aviation Company Memorial Inc., who have entrusted the Valiant Air Command with its care.