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President Biden’s ‘Doomsday Plane,’ Air Force One’s little-known sister aircraft designed to withstand nuclear apocalypse, was spotted being prepped for action with a refueling drill over southern California.
Just this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s own ‘Doomsday’ plane was seen flying around the outskirts of Moscow. The Russian leader placed his nuclear forces on high alert shortly after invading Ukraine, and officials worry he will resort to atomic weapons after staunch Western support has made Ukraine a more formidable opponent than he expected.
Russian officials have insisted the aircraft will be showcased with a low flypast at Monday’s annual Victory Day parade on Red Square, and is involved in ‘rehearsals’ for the display.
Test pilots and personnel from the 418th Flight Test Squadron, out of Edwards Air Force Base, California, refueled the E-4B Nightwatch in April, though photos have just been released.
The E-4B is outfitted as a complete command center for the president and his top officials including the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the case of nuclear war or national emergency.
Test pilots and personnel from the 418th Flight Test Squadron, out of Edwards Air Force Base, California, conducted aerial refueling testing
The planes can also be refueled in the air and have remained airborne and operational for as long as 35.4 hours in one stint
U.S. Strategic Command senior leaders pose for a photo in front of an E-4B Nightwatch
An Air Force E-4B National Airborne Operations Center aircraft sits at the international airport in Bogota,Colombia
The Air Force has four specially outfitted Boeing 747s, valued at around $223 million each. The aircraft have been around since the Cold War era of the 1970s.
The craft carry special equipment and have the capability to communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world, and support analysts and strategists in-flight.
The planes can also be refueled in the air and have remained airborne and operational for as long as 35.4 hours in one stint, though they are designed to be able to remain in the air for up to one week.
The design of the plane is meant to survive an electromagnetic pulse with all the systems intact, even down to the fact that they still use traditional analog flight instruments because they are less vulnerable.
The planes are equipped with special equipment, including a 5-mile-long trailing antenna that ensures the president can remain in contact with a nuclear submarine fleet even if ground command centers are destroyed.
When the president is in the U.S., at least one E-4B remains at the ready, engines, running, all hours of the day at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska in case of emergency.
A Doomsday plane, known by crew as ‘Air Force One when it counts,’ regularly travels with or near the president, especially on overseas trips.
Last week Putin made a chilling veiled threat to go nuclear if the West ‘interferes’ in Ukraine.
‘If someone intends to interfere in what is going on from the outside they must know that constitutes an unacceptable strategic threat to Russia. They must know that our response to counter strikes will be lightning fast. Fast,’ he said, addressing legislators in St. Petersburg.
‘We have all the weapons we need for this. No one else can brag about these weapons, and we won’t brag about them. But we will use them.’
Though Putin did not mention nuclear weapons directly, he was almost certainly referring to Russia’s new Sarmat 2 nuclear missile which was tested for the first time just days ago and that he boasted is unlike any other weapon in the world.
Meanwhile, fighter jets in a ‘Z’ formation ripped through the skies over Moscow Wednesday as Russia puts the final preparations on its Victory Day parade – an annual show of strength that Putin will use to drum up support for the war in Ukraine.
Eight MiG-29 jets formed the Z, a symbol that is now synonymous with the war and which is expected to conclude the fly-past on May 9, marking the day the Nazis surrendered to the Soviets at the end of World War Two.
A Russian Ilyushin IL-80 aircraft flies over the Kremlin on May 4
The Ilyushin Il-80, Putin’s doomsday plane, has not been featured in recent past Victory Day parades
They were joined by an Ilyushin Il-80, Putin’s doomsday plane, which has not featured in past parades.
Despite the addition of the doomsday jet, the Victory Day parade is set to be markedly smaller than in previous years because Russia has committed – and lost – so many of its military vehicles fighting in Ukraine.
Russia has long-marked the day Hitler’s Germany surrendered with solemn events, but in recent years Putin has turned the day into a tub-thumping shows of nationalistic pride designed to project an image of strength to Russians, their allies and their enemies alike.
But as the war in Ukraine has faltered that mask has started to slip, leading some observers to predict that Putin may resort to a provocation to achieve a semblance of victory – such as declaring the city of Kherson to be independent – or to ramp up his rhetoric by openly declaring war.
Though Russia’s attack on Ukraine is widely viewed as a war, Putin has described it as a ‘special military operation’ to his own people. Officially declaring war would allow the Kremlin to take measures such as a general mobilisation of the population into the armed forces, which would be difficult to justify for a ‘special operation’.
Lt. Col. Mike Moone, a navigator on a E-4B Nightwatch, prepares for takeoff at the Lincoln Airport on Tuesday, April 26
Lt. Col. Robert Melsby prepares to pilot a E-4B Nightwatch at the Lincoln Airport on Tuesday, April 26
Senior Airman Erskine Jones, a member of the 595th Command and Control group, ensures cooling and heating systems are functioning properly for all the communication assets aboard the E-4B “Nightwatch” aircraft during a media day/orientation flight for local, trade, and national media at Lincoln Airport, NE on April 26
Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s official spokesman, denied any such plans today – saying there is ‘no chance’ of it happening. But that will do little to quell fears, as Peskov also routinely predicted there would be no war in Ukraine right before Putin ordered his troops in.
The May 9 Victory Day is one of Russia’s most important national events – a remembrance of the enormous Soviet sacrifice made in defeating Nazi Germany in what is known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War.
An estimated 27 million Soviet citizens were killed in the 1941-45 war which left the Soviet Union devastated and almost every Soviet family mourning.
Source: Daily Mail