How to Tow a Top Secret Military Space Plane with a Pickup Truck

How to Tow a Top Secret Military Space Plane
Photos by Boeing

Last week, the U.S. Air Force's X-37B unmanned space plane landed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California after completing a top-secret 220-day orbital space mission. It was towed from the runway by a 1994-1998 Chevrolet C/K 3500. 

The X-37B resembles the U.S. space shuttle, but it's only a bit larger than a heavy-duty pickup truck. It weighs about 11,000 pounds and has a cargo bay that measures about 7 feet by 4 feet.

Based on pictures released by Boeing, the one-ton GMT 400 Chevy dually used to tow the X-37B to a secure hangar probably has the old 230-290 horsepower, 454-cubic-inch (7.4-liter) big-block V-8 gas engine because the 6.5-liter V-8 diesel would have had two air inlets in the front bumper. The HD pickup appears to have a custom high-low conventional hitch adapter hooked up to a dolly that guides the X-37B's landing gear.

The X-37B might be the most expensive object ever towed by a heavy-duty pickup.



Makes you wonder what's so top secret about this highly publicized "Top Secret" X Plane... But yes only trust your multi-billion dollar oxymoron with a 454 Big Block!

that shove-it is loving every minute of it.

The o'l 454, she'll pass everything but a gas station - LOL!

Wow !! A 90's vintage 5.2L (318)Dodge had 230 h.p !!!

Bet that Chev has ultra low miles !!!My neighbor picked up a 71 GMC 402 c.i truck from the government in the late 80's ,the truck was under 20,000 miles,and NO it never rolled over,as being a 5 digit odometer after 99,999 GM,Chrysler ,Ford all went back to 0 !!! The truck still had its original tires and was just like new,service records ect...

Bet you,dolts will see that plane flying around and think and tell everyone its a U.F.O !!!!

The gov has lots of old vehicles. Plenty of manpower to keep them repaired. I bet that thing is several hundred million dollars of tax payer money. I'm all for getting the human element out of flight but also doing it within our budget.

I could pull that with my riding lawn mower

thats pretty frickin cool. i wonder why everyone seems to have only negative things to say about it.

lets see, truck built 1994-1998, it really is a big truck, but 4 years to build it??? hehehe

Glad the military does not think they need the latest and "greatest" trcuk with al the hp/torque to do the job like civilians do.

I've always liked the looks of these older Chevies much better than the new Silverado's. Cool pictures.

Glad the military does not think they need the latest and "greatest" truck with all the hp/torque to do the job like civilians do.

Exactly what I was thinking.

Old pickups are always good, but very interesting article, the government always being very secretive.

@Greg B |

As expected chevy won MT TOTY award. People do you not notice a rhythm in MT truck of the year award program. When ford got it I knew it wasn't for real because MT want to give every1 a little win here and there. next year ford may get it then dodge then toyota then gm and so on, or who ever makes a new pickup will get an award because MT wants to be "fair."
Greg told you the chevy would win.

With the cutbacks,they are probably stuck with that truck for another 10 years.They better get used to it...
No Vortec or Dirty Max in their near future....

Sadly, the Chinese had already downloaded all the secret data collected before they hooked up the truck. Sold to them for pennys on the dollar by one of our crooked politicians.

Hope that wasn't too negative. :)

This chevy had the NORMAL tailpipe not the crazy(abby normal) looking one the new 2500 has.

It must be a slow day for the gang at Well, at least we had something new to read today instead of getting by with yesterdays news.

I wish they had a video of the truck towing the plane in slow motion while "Like a Rock" playing in the background

amzingly there hasnt been a government motors joke combined with this picture

How does it compare to the Chinese aerospace-space equipment (100,000 feet to 1,000,000 feet)

80's & 90's GM trucks still look better than what they look like today! I wonder why its not painted camo or dark blue since its in military service? It must do double duty as a civilian tow truck to take all the toyota minivans and turdras to the repair shop!!!

mike levine, you are a well paid writer for , and the first paragraph of this is clear that you have no idea what you are talking about , something that is all too common with automotive journalism. This truck is a C3500. A "C" truck denotes a 2wd drivetrain, and "K" would signify a four-wheel drive . This is something that is (for some reason) terribly unknown for a truck platform that only has been used for many years in a very significant number.

@ Jason Gardner
1. Learn some manners.
2. Learn to read.

It was towed from the runway by a 1994-1998 Chevrolet C/K 3500.

@jason: Thanks for your observation but I do know the driveline difference between C/K trucks, but since I can't say for sure which one it is by looking at the lo-res photo, I used the general term.

I was able to clearly see it didn't have a diesel.

- Mike

The 4x4 trucks had front fender flares.

I wonder what the Chevy would look like atop an Atlas rocket.

Maybe NASA can reduce the cost-per-pound to orbit with full-sized trucks.

The truck is Boeing's property and that's the reason why it's not painted in camouflage or dark blue...Typical Boeing vehicles have TONS of mileage. I wouldn't doubt this guy has over 250k.

@Living Farmville, not Playing it
maybe it would be piloted by Max and Al.
Houston..... we have a problem.

btw guys, they made this truck style until the year 2000, the "new" style HD's (with the d-max and LS v8's) didnt come out until '01 :)

If you look at the photo, the truck has a Boeing logo on the door, and CA plates - it's not an Air Force vehicle.

My 3500 had that 454,I pulled it out and replaced it with a 5.3 and kept the 400 turbo tranny.It pulls pretty good.Oh, by the way ,I sold the big block to my neighbor.


I think you might be a truck killer, also? How is the power situation with the tiny motor? It must run like dog now? I guess that means you are going to have to live up to your name, dogkiller, and kill that poor dog?

The comments to this entry are closed.