The Air Force pushes off the beginning of its E-4B ‘Doomsday Plane’ alternative program

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The service initially meant to situation a request for proposals for the Survivable Airborne Operations Center program in December, which might formally kick off a seek for a alternative for the 4 growing old E-4B Nightwatch airborne command posts presently based mostly at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

However, this system was just lately given the Acquisition Category 1D designation, the label for main weapons applications that require the oversight of the protection acquisition government — on this case, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord.

Because of the brand new designation, “The acquisition strategy is being updated and coordinated with stakeholders,” the Air Force acknowledged in a solicitation posted to on Oct. 2. “Additional details regarding the path forward/updated schedule will be released in the near future.”

Nicknamed the “Doomsday plane” resulting from its means to face up to a nuclear blast, the long-lasting blue and white E-4B serves two functions: to offer a safe and survivable command heart within the occasion of a nuclear battle and to move protection secretaries world wide.

The E-4B was derived from the Boeing 747-200 and launched by the Air Force in 1974. But after nearly 50 years in service, the plane is nearing the tip of its service life and it getting harder for maintainers to maintain up with the repairs essential to preserve the small fleet up and operating — particularly given the requirement that at the least one airplane be saved on alert standing always.

Under the SAOC program, the Air Force had deliberate to purchase new commercial-derivative planes, harden them sufficient to outlive a nuclear blast, and add trendy communications and command and management methods.

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