Affectionately known as the “doomsday plane,” the modified Boeing 747 is used to transport the secretary of Defense and is born and bred for battle. It stands nearly six stories tall, is equipped with four colossal engines, and is capable of enduring the immediate aftermath of a nuclear detonation.
If there ever were a nuclear war and all US military ground communication was destroyed, the US Air Force keeps an E-4B “Nightwatch,” nicknamed the “doomsday plane,” on alert 24/7. The $223 million militarized Boeing 747 is designed to survive a nuclear blast and would become the command and control center for the US military’s most senior officials, including the US President, Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Originally designed in 1973, the E-4 series planes were thought to be the best way a president during the Cold War might survive a nuclear explosion. And since their inception, one of the doomsday planes has stood on alert 24/7.
And while the majority of the E-4B’s capabilities are classified, we do know a few things. The plane has three decks and can hold a crew of up to 112 people. With four massive engines, the E-4B can fly for 12 hours straight without refueling, though with aerial refueling capabilities it could theoretically fly for several days.
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