US Airborne Operations Center Boeing E-4B Returns To Duty <


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US Airborne Operations Center Boeing E-4B Returns To Duty

By Mike Mitchell

February 18, 2010 - The Boeing Company delivered an E-4B National Airborne Operations Center aircraft to the U.S. Air Force after 11 months of maintenance at Boeing’s Wichita facility. The aircraft returns to service in support of the center’s mission -- providing senior government and military decision makers with connected and protected air travel. 

“The E-4B is the most advanced communications aircraft in the world and on alert 24/7,” said Steve Wade, general manager of Boeing Global Transport and Executive Systems (GTES). “When they’re called upon, it’s our job to ensure they are ready.” 

The Boeing E-4 Advanced Airborne Command Post, with a project name of "Nightwatch" is an aircraft operated by the United States Air Force (USAF). To create the E-4 series four Boeing 747-200 airframes were specially modified to serve as a survivable mobile command post for the National Command Authority, including the President of the United States, the Secretary of Defense, and successors. The four E-4s are operated by the 1st Airborne Command and Control Squadron of the 55th Wing located at Offutt Air Force Base, near Omaha, Nebraska. 


The upgrade completed last week included an extensive programmed depot maintenance refurbishment, ensuring the aircraft received the repairs and system upgrades it needs to operate effectively and meet Federal Aviation Administration safety requirements. 

The E-4B is designed to survive an EMP with systems intact, and has state of the art direct fire countermeasures. The E-4B is capable of operating with a crew of 48 to 112 people, the largest crew of any aircraft in US Air Force history. With in-flight refueling it is capable of remaining airborne for a considerable period (limited only by consumption of the engines' lubricants). In a test flight for endurance, the aircraft remained airborne and fully operational for 33 hours. It takes two fully loaded KC-135 tankers to fully refuel an E-4B. The E-4B has three operational decks; upper, middle and lower. 

The next E-4B scheduled to enter maintenance will receive a full Mod Block upgrade that includes the addition of a Senior Leadership Communications System and improvements to the aircraft’s Global Air Traffic Management System, audio infrastructure, and interior. 


GTES, headquartered in Wichita, is a division of Boeing Global Services & Support. In addition to the E-4B, GTES supports all Boeing aircraft in the U.S. executive fleet, including VC-25, C-32A, and C-40B/C, as well as the U.S. Navy’s E-6B and C-40A. 

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space and Security is one of the world’s largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world’s largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $34 billion business with 68,000 employees worldwide.

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