A Look Inside the U.S. Military’s “Doomsday Plane,” Built to Withstand the Aftermath of a Nuclear Blast

©US Air Force


The plane is officially known as the U.S. Air Force’s E-4B, but most people just call it the “doomsday plane.” The aircraft is used to take the Secretary of Defense all over the world, and it is a monster of an airplane. The plane is also known as the National Airborne Operations Center.

The E-4B is almost six stories tall, has four enormous engines, and can withstand the immediate aftermath of a nuclear explosion. How’s that for technology? A member of the U.S. Air Force said, “It’s like a backup Pentagon. There’s always one plane on alert and ready to go 24 hours, seven days a week.”

Just like its sister aircraft Air Force One, the E-4B is like a flying command center, and many of the plane’s capabilities are classified. There are four “doomsday planes” that have been in operation since 1980, and they are based at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.

The aircraft truly is a marvel of technology. The large hump on top of the E-4B is called a “radome” and houses satellite dishes and antennas that allow people onboard to contact submarines, ships, aircraft, and phone lines anywhere in the world. Because of the humongous fuel tanks and the ability to refuel while flying, the E-4B can stay in the air for several days without ever having to land.

The plane can accommodate up to 112 people. It has three levels, 18 bunks, 6 bathrooms, a briefing room, and a conference room. Interestingly, the E-4B is not up-to-date technologically and relies on analog technology.

A crew member said, “It’s a common misconception, but this plane doesn’t have digital touch screens in the cockpit or elsewhere. The conditions that this plane is meant to fly in call for analog, since digital tech would fry during a nuclear war.”