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USAF awards contract for “Doomsday plane” replacement

The US Air Force announced on April 26, 2024, that the Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC) contract was awarded to Sierra Nevada Corp. This contract will replace the current E-4B Nightwatch aircraft fleet. 

The initial cost of the program is estimated to be around $13 billion, with $59 million being earmarked for preliminary research and development.

The E-4 Nightwatch is a militarized version of the Boeing 747-200, similar to the two famous VC-25A planes used as the United States presidential planes. Its avionics and cabin are protected against electromagnetic interference and external radiation, respectively, earning it the nickname “Doomsday Plane.” Since the upgrade to the B standard in the 1980s, it can be refueled during flight, extending its autonomy to 72 hours.  

Four E-4Bs are currently in operation within the 1st Airborne Command Control Squadron, which is part of the 595th Command and Control Group based at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. These aircraft are on high alert 24/7. They are due to be phased in the early 2030s.

The successor to the E-4B will also be a commercial aircraft modified to meet military requirements. However, a specific model has yet to be chosen.

The post USAF awards contract for “Doomsday plane” replacement appeared first on AeroTime.

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