Former Passenger Jets Set to Transform into Next-Gen Nuclear ‘Doomsday’ Planes

( – The US Air Force announced in late April that it awarded a $13 billion contract to the Colorado-based Sierra Nevada Corp to develop the next generation of Survivable Airborne Operations Centers, commonly referred to as Doomsday planes, to replace the current fleet of 1970s-era aircraft.

Last Friday, a spokesman from Sierra Nevada confirmed that the company purchased five Boeing 747 jets from South Korea.

According to the Air Force, work on the new Survivable Airborne Operations Centers would be done in Colorado, Nevada, and Ohio with completion expected by 2036.

The so-called Doomsday planes, also known as E-4B “Nightwatch,” are airborne command and control centers that can be used in the event of a national emergency if ground facilities are incapacitated or destroyed, like from a nuclear blast.

Effectively an airborne Pentagon, the Doomsday planes can carry the Joint Chiefs, the Secretary of Defense, the president, and over 100 others charged with the control of US forces worldwide.

The planes are retrofitted to withstand the electromagnetic pulse released from a nuclear blast that could disrupt or damage electrical components within most critical infrastructure, allowing US civilian and military leaders to continue delivering orders in the event of an emergency.

According to the US Air Force, the US has at least one Survivable Airborne Operations Center on alert around the clock at a military base somewhere in the world.

The five Boeing 747s purchased by Sierra Nevada would have to be retrofitted to meet the operational requirements of the E-4B Nightwatch planes.

The Doomsday planes are also capable of mid-air refueling and feature briefing rooms and advanced communications.

US Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek confirmed last Friday that Sierra Nevada was awarded the contract in late April to develop the “critical national security weapon system” to ensure the Pentagon’s Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications capabilities are “operationally relevant and secure for decades to come.”

The Air Force currently has a fleet of four operational Doomsday planes. However, the current fleet has become expensive and difficult to maintain now that many of the parts have become obsolete.

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