One of the rarest of USAF aircraft, only 4 E-4 aircraft exist, though the two Presidencial 747's could technically be very similar. The E-4A is a command and control aircraft that was developed as a replacement to one of the EC-137 models, also used in the airborne command post role. The E-4's serve to make sure that command of the nuclear forces at America's control is not lost even in case of a surprise attack. They are intended to be close enough to the President or the senior Military staff, that they can be manned and airborne quickly with a crew that has command authority in case of the unthinkable.
On 9/11/2001 the unthinkable nearly occured. Within 30 minutes of the Pentagon attack by Muslim extremists this E-4 was airborne from Wright-Patterson AFB. I suspect that it had been there as part of an upgrade program, because they normally fly out of Offutt Field, Nebraska.
|© Copyright A. Maclean 2001 -|