The US military began using the RC-26 Condor in 1989. Originally known as a counter-narcotics aircraft, the RC-26 Condor had a civilian crew like the C-26B. This would change in 2005 when the Air National Guard and Army National Guard changed its design to the RC-26B. At this time, the military took ownership of Condor, using it for various services, at home and abroad.
Adapted from the Fairchild Swearingen SA227 Metroliner, the main advantage of the RC-26 Condor was its reconnaissance capability. With special digital cameras and IR video, the aircraft provided real-time information to units on the ground.
In 2020 and 2021, the National Defense Authorization Act prevented the RC-26 Condor from being retired. Former RC-26 pilot and Illinios Congressman Adam Kinzinger was one of the prominent representatives who advocated for the preservation of the thirteen-year, $30 million-a-year program.
However, no such provision was made in the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, allowing for the use and deployment of the RC-26 Condor. The last few flights of the RC-26 took place in late 2022 and early 2023, when the RC-26 flew its final flight from the 132d Wing in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 27, 2023.