This is what is known about the next US 'Doomsday plane'.

A 'Doomsday plane' It is a military aircraft specially designed to operate in extreme conditions, including during and after a nuclear attack. These planes function as air command and control centers highly secure, allowing military and government leaders to direct military operations and make decisions, even if ground infrastructure has been destroyed or compromised. The United States has a fleet of 4 E-4B Nightwatchbased on the 747-200 of Boeingwhich dates back to the 70s and will be updated in the coming years.

A month ago it was announced that Boeing would not be the winner of the contract. 13 billion dollars to build new ones SAOCacronym in English for Survival Air Operations Centerbut Sierra Nevada Corporation, SNCan American company with experience in modifying aircraft for military applications.

The SAOC will be based on the Boeing 747-8the last variant of the 747, whose production ceased in 2022which is why have to be purchased second hand. They were only built 155 747-8 units, of which 55 They were in the 747-8i passenger configuration, the same type that Boeing is converting in the future Air Force One VC-25B which will replace the current plane in charge of transporting the president of the United States. The need for four engines and other specifications made the 747-8 the only viable option for the SAOC program.

One of the E-4B Nightwatch currently in service. USAF.

SNC recently published designs of what will be the SAOC and has announced that the first of the five 747-8i that it acquired from Korean Air to carry out this contract is located in its facilities. They are relatively young aircraft, being oldest from 2015. Their transformation into Doomsday aircraft requires the integration of advanced, secure and reliable communications suites, protection against electromagnetic pulses resulting from nuclear detonations, and other specialized capabilities. Details, of course, are scarce, but the concept art published by SNC allows some progress, according to The Warzone analysis.

'The Air Force requirements were generally for a similar type of capability to what the E-4B Nightwatch has today. But as a 50-year-old aircraft that has been modified throughout its life, it has a large number of aging subsystems. A big part of this effort is modern technology, modern computing, modern versions of old things that surpass the current machine in the E-4B Nightwatch', he told the media Brady Hauboldtvice president of Strategic Aviation Plans and Programs at SNC.

Concept art shows that the E-4B replacement will maintain a similar appearance to its predecessor, including its signature white and blue paint scheme. However, the 747-8i is larger, with almost 1,500 square meters of internal spacedifferent wings with inclined tips and turbofan engines Genx more powerful and efficient. The elongated upper deck provides more space than the 747-200.

A notable feature in the new design is the aerial refueling system. He has been moved from the nose of the plane to the top of the hump, just above the cockpit. Aerial refueling is crucial for long-range and contingency missions, allowing the E-4B fly without landing.

SAOC concept art.
SAOC concept art.CNS.

The SAOC renderings also show a satellite communications dome similar to that of the E-4B, although communications technologies have come a long way since the creation of the current Doomsday aircraft. There's also more satellite antenna systems along the central fuselage of the new SAOC, as well as high frequency radio antennas on the tips of the wings and the edges of the horizontal tail.

The two capsules located under the wings suggest the possibility of additional communications equipment, although its exact purpose is unknown. These pods do not exist on the current E-4B and could allow for the integration of new technologies and mission needs in the future.

The new SAOC could take over functions such as the Looking Glass air command post and ballistic missile launch communications currently carried out by the Navy's E-6B Mercury. SNC has assured that the SAOC conversion process will have a modular, open systems architecture approach which will facilitate the integration of new and improved capabilities in the future. Collins Aerospace, FSI Defense, GE Aerospace, Greenpoint Technologies, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works and Rolls-Royce are also collaborating in the construction of the SAOC.