U.S. Doomsday Plane: Key Facts

The so-called U.S. doomsday plane is an aircraft redesigned to carry command personnel in the event of a large-scale war attack.

The U.S. doomsday aircraft are generally modified aircraft, which, given their space and width, can be an airborne command base.

The last of these aircraft modified as intended for a doomsday plane will come from a Boeing 747 passenger jet once operated by South Korean flag carrier Korean Air.

In total, the U.S. Air Force acquired five units of this type.

The units have been acquired by Sierra Nevada Corporation, contractor for the replacements for the U.S. Air Force’s current fleet of strategic military command and control aircraft, better known as the ‘Doomsday’ aircraft

The U.S. doomsday aircraft, or also known as E-4B “Nightwatch” aircraft, are designed to be command and control centers for the U.S. Armed Forces in the event of a national emergency that would see ground command facilities destroyed or incapacitated, such as, for example, a nuclear war.

They could become what amounts to a Pentagon in the sky, carrying aboard the U.S. president, the secretary of defense and members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, among more than 100 others.

This U.S. doomsday plane has a capability to control U.S. forces around the world from the aircraft, according to an Air Force fact sheet on the E-4Bs.

U.S. Doomsday Plane: Key Facts

A U.S. doomsday aircraft is built to withstand the effects of an electromagnetic pulse, the burst of energy released by a nuclear explosion that can “permanently disrupt and damage electrical components and entire systems within most critical infrastructure sectors and impact large-scale infrastructures,” according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

At least one U.S. Doomsday plane is on permanent alert at a U.S. military base somewhere in the world, according to the Air Force.

A spokesman for Colorado-based Sierra Nevada confirmed the purchase of the aircraft from Korean Air, but declined to provide further details.

A spokesman for Colorado-based Sierra Nevada confirmed the purchase of the aircraft from Korean Air, but declined to provide further details.

Importantly, on April 26, the Air Force awarded Sierra Nevada a $13 billion contract to develop and produce the Survivable Air Operations Center, the official name for the new ‘Doomsday’ aircraft.

The project is to be completed by 2036, according to a Defense Department release.

Last year, Sierra Nevada opened a 9,000-square-foot aircraft repair, maintenance and overhaul facility at Dayton International Airport in Dayton, Ohio, and construction has already begun on a second hangar of similar size.

All assumes that the manufacturing of America’s doomsday aircraft will be in large proportions.

The 747-800s are an upgrade of the older, smaller 747-200s in the current ‘Doomsday’ fleet, which entered service in the 1980s.


Earlier this week, Korean Air announced the sale of five of its aircraft to Sierra Nevada for US$675 million.

The decision to sell the aircraft is part of a “medium- to long-term plan to introduce new aircraft,” the airline said in a statement, adding that it expects the deal to be completed by Sept. 30, 2025.

The U.S. Doomsday Plane, also known as the “Doomsday Plane,” is a crucial tool inherited from the Cold War.

High Command Center

Conceived as National Airborne Operations Centers, these aircraft are designed to ensure continuity of government in extreme situations, such as a nuclear attack.

A U.S. doomsday aircraft is equipped with sophisticated communications technology, including satellite and radio systems, these aircraft can maintain contact with military and civilian units anywhere in the world.

In addition, they have security measures such as thermal and nuclear shielding, as well as protection against cyber-attacks.

They have protection measures against external threats, such as electromagnetic pulse protection grids on the windows and acoustic management systems.

In short, the “U.S. Doomsday Plane” represents a key piece with advanced capabilities that ensure its functionality in the most critical moments.

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