A Very Rare View Inside the United States’ Doomsday Plane (pictures)
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If America ever fights a nuclear war, military leaders will run command and control from the National Airborne Operations Center.
OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. – Fortunately, it has never come to this. But if the United States ever found itself in the middle of a nuclear war, it would need the ability to get a command and control center off the ground and away from potential attack targets in just minutes.
That’s precisely what the National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) is all about. A set of four E-4Bs — which are Boeing 747-200s modified to support the military’s doomsday communications needs — these planes were designed to allow the country’s most senior military officials to stay in charge and control during a nuclear crisis, or something approaching that level of seriousness.
The planes are based out of this Air Force Base, which is also home to U.S. Strategic Command, and was the longtime home of U.S. Strategic Air Command, just south of Omaha.
Three out of four
Though there are four NAOC planes in the military’s fleet, all four are almost never operational at one time. Usually, at least one of the planes is being worked on. But even having three together at once, as seen here, is a somewhat rare event.
The E-4B in the foreground is the one that, when this photograph was taken, is known as the “alert” plane. That means its crew is on a week-long alert and ready to go airborne within minutes, should such a situation arise. Which plane is on alert depends on many factors, among the most important of which is the maintenance schedule.
The planes are also sometimes used to flying the U.S. secretary of defense on international trips.
This hump, on top of the plane’s fuselage, gives those on board the ability to communicate via super high frequency and Milstar systems.
According to the Air Force, Milstar “is a joint service satellite communications system that provides secure, jam resistant, worldwide communications to meet essential wartime requirements for high priority military users. The multi-satellite constellation links command authorities with a wide variety of resources, including ships, submarines, aircraft and ground stations.”
Power and cooling console
In the plane’s technical room, one console is dedicated to handling the plane’s on-board power and cooling functions.
VLF antenna monitoring station
Among the plane’s many communications tools is a very-low frequency antenna that can be trailed out the back of the aircraft. Depending on need, the antenna can be as much as five miles long. Technicians can monitor the antenna from this station, and see it physically through the white periscope that is on the left side of the station.
It is vital that the technicians monitor the antenna when it is outside the plane because it is fragile and can be damaged or destroyed in rough weather or turbulence.
This insignia, depicting the National Airborne Operations Center logo, and the term “Nightwatch” is found on the wall of the conference room.
Deep “Underground Pentagon” Complex Called “Raven Rock Mountain Complex” Site R
America built a secret network of remote underground bunkers during “The Cold War” in case of nuclear strike by the Russia. But they were not made to protect civilians – the hideouts is just for Top Government Officials.