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A Look Inside The US’s $223 Million Doomsday Plane

Beth Cunliffe

| Last updated 

A Look Inside The US’s $223 Million Doomsday Plane

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Ever wondered where the President Of The United States would go in the event of a nuclear disaster? Well it turns out there's a special plane that has been built for just this scenario. Take a look inside below:


The $223 million militarised Boeing 747 is designed to survive a nuclear blast and in the event that military ground communication was destroyed, it 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.

The E-4B 'Nightwatch' is equipped with everything US officials would need to continue running the country, potentially from the skies, amidst a catastrophic world event.

A fleet of four E-4Bs make up the National Airborne Operations Center. One of them is on alert 24/7 and one always follows the President on Air Force One for overseas visits.

Credit: Danbirchall/Wikimedia Commons
Credit: Danbirchall/Wikimedia Commons
Credit: Ken H/Flickr
Credit: Ken H/Flickr

The plane has three decks and can hold a crew of up to 112 people.

The front of the plane contains living quarters for senior military officials, where 18 bunks are available for Air Force crew, Business Insider reports.

The centre of the plane, sometimes known as the battle-staff room, is where military strategists hammer out a response to a crisis.

The back of the plane is dedicated to external communication as well as the technical control room.

We know what you're thinking - how could a plane survive a nuclear explosion?

Well this particular aircraft can fly so high it can actually get above nuclear destruction and out of harm's way.

Additionally the windows have a wired mesh, a bit like a microwave but hopefully more high-tech, to prevent the effects of radiation entering the aircraft.

Crucially, due to its four huge engines, the plane can fly for seven whole days before needing to be refuelled.

Credit: Kevin Schwandt/US Department Of Defense
Credit: Kevin Schwandt/US Department Of Defense
Credit: Kevin Schwandt/US Department Of Defense
Credit: Kevin Schwandt/US Department Of Defense
Credit: Kevin Schwandt/US Department Of Defense
Credit: Kevin Schwandt/US Department Of Defense

Unsurprisingly, it's not cheap to run and costs almost $160,000 per hour to fly, making it the most expensive airplane the Air Force operates.

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.

The planes are now considered slightly dated, and the US is currently in the process of trying to replace them.

In December 2020, interested parties were invited to submit proposals for replacements for the fleet which involved converting existing commercial aircraft.

Topics: US News

Beth Cunliffe
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