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The Doomsday Plane[1] is an unofficial denomination of a class of aircraft which is used as an Airborne Command Post in an event of nuclear war, disaster or other large scale conflict that threatens key military and government infrastructure.

There are only a few countries that have designed and manufactured such aircraft, namely the United States and Russia.

About the PlanesEdit

Known officially as National Airborne Operations Centers (NAOC)[2], these planes allow leaders and wartime hawks to issue commands and wage war from the sky. They also feature a vast array of defense mechanisms, including the ability to withstand electromagnetic pulses. The jet’s crews also use traditional analog flight instruments to navigate as they are less susceptible to cyberattack. The planes, while not technically secret, are rarely mentioned; the Air Force, for example, will not even publicly acknowledge owning some of them. In operation since the 1970s, these airborne command posts were long considered the best chance for a Cold War president to survive a nuclear attack. Unlike the ceremonial and comfort-focused Air Force One, the doomsday planes are flying war rooms staffed by dozens of military analysts, strategists and communication aides who would guide the president through the first days of a nuclear war.

United States of AmericaEdit

The Boeing E-4 is an Advanced Airborne Command Post, with the project name "Nightwatch", and is a strategic command and control military aircraft operated by the United States Air Force. The E-4 series was specially modified from the Boeing 747-200B for the National Emergency Airborne Command Post (NEACP) program. The E-4 serves as a survivable mobile command post for the National Command Authority, namely the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and successors. [3]

  • Boeing E-6 Mercury

The Boeing E-6 Mercury (formerly E-6 Hermes) is an airborne command post and communications relay based on the Boeing 707-320. The original E-6A manufactured by Boeing's defense division entered service with the United States Navy in July 1989, replacing the EC-130Q. This platform, now modified to the E-6B standard, conveys instructions from the National Command Authority to fleet ballistic missile submarines, a mission known as TACAMO (Take Charge And Move Out). The E-6B model deployed in October 1998 can also remotely control Minuteman ICBMs using the Airborne Launch Control System. With production lasting until 1991, the E-6 was the final new derivative of the Boeing 707 to be built.[4]

  • Northrop Grumman E-10 MC2A

The Northrop Grumman E-10 MC2A was planned as a multi-role military aircraft to replace the Boeing 707-based E-3 Sentry and E-8 Joint STARS, the Boeing 747-based E-4B, and the RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft in US service. The E-10 was based on the Boeing 767-400ER commercial airplane. In 2003, the Northrop Grumman, Boeing, and Raytheon MC2A team was awarded a $215 million contract for pre-System Development and Demonstration for the aircraft. It would have been the central command authority for all air, land, and sea forces in a combat theater. The E-10 was also considered for use as a command center for unmanned combat air vehicles.[5]

Russian FederationEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Inside the President's Doomsday planes,, 13 September 2014, accessed 20 March 2018
  2. ^ a b "National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC)".
  3. ^ "E-4B".
  4. ^ Petty, Dan. "The US Navy -- Fact File: E-6B Mercury airborne command post".
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-02-05. Retrieved 2018-09-10.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Russian Next-Generation 'Doomsday Plane' Finally Ready for Action,, 28 July 2016, accessed 29 July 2016