According to Defense One U.S. Air Force’s doomsday plane is in the shop for repairs & upgrades.
U.S. Air Force’s E-4B Nightwatch, the so-called doomsday plane that would direct American forces during a nuclear war and has served as a mobile Pentagon for defense secretaries.
The so-called Doomsday plane — which is the Air Force’s four E-4Bs and the Navy’s E-6B „Mercury“ — has been in service since the 1970s, much like Air Force One, and is expected to keep flying through the 2020s.
Lt. Col. David Faggard, an Air Force spokesman, told Defense One that a number of aircraft are in a maintenance status to ensure they remain flyable for this no-fail mission for the next decade.
Upgrades and maintenance include avionics, wiring, communication equipment, and other components to ensure the platform remains viable in a modern world,“ Faggard said
But it has allowed the Air Force to continue to keep one of the four Nightwatch aircraft either flying or on alert every minute of every day, ready to take off at a moment’s notice.
“Our command is committed to maintaining the fleet we have in order to ensure we retain a viable weapon system for the future of our national no-fail mission,” Faggard wrote. “Modifications, modernization, and sustainment require disciplined maintenance actions to ensure the long term health of the E-4B fleet. Renewed discipline is the main driver to our change in E-4B operations and subsequent availability.”
The Air Force declined to say how many E-4Bs were currently in the shop, citing the sensitive nuclear-command mission.
Using special electronics and transmitters, the E-4B — along with the Navy’s E-6B Mercury — can pass launch orders from the president to ICBM silos, nuclear submarines, and flying bombers.