Everything you need to know about the infamous Boeing Doomsday

It's designed to be a flying control centre in the event of nuclear war, a major crisis or a large-scale terrorist attack

Published on Oct 10, 2023 at 6:19PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Oct 11, 2023 at 10:24AM (UTC+4)

Edited by Kate Bain

This is the (ominously named) US Boeing Doomsday plane.

Also known as the Nightwatch, the aircraft is a militarized version of the Boeing 747-200, designed as a highly specialized airborne command center for the United States government.

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Doomsday is built to help the government continue operating in the wake of a major crises, such as a nuclear war, natural disaster or terrorist attack.

In case of emergency, the Boeing Doomsday plane would whisk the US President, Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff to safety.

The US Air Force says this is a “highly survivable command, control and communications center to direct U.S. forces” and it would help “POTUS (US President) execute emergency war orders and coordinate actions by civil authorities”.

Built by Boeing Aerospace Co, it features four general electric CF6-50E2 turbofan engines with 52,500 pounds of thrust each and swept-wings.

It’s long-range, high-altitude and capable of refueling in flight after 12 hours.

Modifications from the Boeing 747-200 include advanced communication systems, hardened electronic equipment, and security.

Background checks, security clearances, and rigorous screening procedures ensure only authorized personnel can board.

Meanwhile, advanced defense measure include electronic countermeasures, infrared missile warning systems, and chaff dispensers.

At 231 feet, 4 inches (70.5 meters) long and with a wingspan of 195 feet, 8 inches (59.7 meters), it is absolutely massive, too.

It has a maximum takeoff weight of 800,000 pounds (360,000 kilograms).

Inside it boasts a command-work area, conference room, briefing room, operations team work area, communications area and rest area.

It seats up to 112 people.

Perhaps most crucially, its advanced satellite communications system provides worldwide communication for leaders.

This communication is designed to work even in the event of electronic warfare or cyberattacks but is highly secure and encrypted.

The Boeing Doomsday even has low-frequency antenna that trail up to five miles (8km) behind the aircraft in flight.

In addition, upper high-frequency and “Milstar” communications equipment sit on top of the fuselage within its distinctive bulge.

It even ensures effective coordination between leadership onboard the aircraft and military forces on the ground, which allows the plane to function as an airborne nuclear war command and control centre.

The Boeing Doomsday is also protected against the effects of electromagnetic pulse, and it has nuclear and thermal effects shielding in the case of a nuclear attack.

What’s more, it provides supports the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The agency provides communications and a command centre for relief efforts following natural disasters including hurricanes and earthquakes.

At least one of the E-4B NAOC Boeing Doomsday aircrafts is always on 24-hour alert, 7-days a week, with a global watch team at a range of global bases.

Each Boeing Doomsday plane is worth an estimate $223.2 million each.

The Air Force announced last year that the US Air Force plans to spend at least $3.4 billion to research a new Doomsday plane.

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