The Boeing E6 Mercury – America’s Flying Nuclear Command Center

Did the United States Navy deploy its flying nuclear command Boeing E6 Mercury aircraft after learning that the President has coronavirus? As people woke up to the news that the President and First Lady had tested positive for COVID-19, Twitter users reported that a Boeing E6 Mercury had been spotted near Washington D.C. and another flying over Oregon.

USA Navy Boeing E-6B Mercury 164407 EDDS 01.jpg
Two E6s were patrolling both coasts when it was announced that President Trump had COVID-19. Photo: Julian Herzog via Wikipedia

The speculation was that the two nuclear command centers took to the skies over both coasts early Friday morning after learning that the President had contracted the virus. The chat on Twitter was that the airborne command posts were deployed to warn America’s adversaries after news broke about President Trump contracting COVID-19.

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The E-6 Mercury is a control and command center

The Boeing E-6 Mercury is used by the Government of the United States to pass on instructions to its fleet of nuclear-powered submarines patrolling around the world. Each vessel is armed with as many as 24 nuclear-tipped submarine-launched Trident ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

As a part of Operation Looking Glass, which is today called “Airborne Command Post” (ABNCP) – the aircraft are used to provide instructions to America’s nuclear forces should ground-based operations or command centers be destroyed or inoperable.

The United States Navy has a fleet of 16 E-6s and has typically at least one of them in the air at all times. It is also not uncommon to see two or three in the air at the same time. However, what was strange this time was that they had their transponders turned on to let people know they were out there rather than wanting to remain dark.

It was just a coincidence

When learning of all the talk on Twitter, Fox News contacted the United States Strategic Command about it only to be told it was just a coincidence and that the flights were pre-planned.

U.S. Navy E-6B Mercury at the Mojave Airport
The E6-Mercury can stay in the air for 72 hours with in-flight refueling. Photo: Alan Radecki via Wikimedia

A senior defense official also told Fox News that there had been no change in the American military’s posture and that the President remained the Commander in Chief.

About the Boeing E-6 Mercury

The Boeing E-6 was the final new derivative of the Boeing 707 to be built with 16 of the planes entering service with the navy in 1989. Able to operate a mission known as TACAMO, which stands for “Take Charge And Move Out.”

U.S. Navy E-6 Mercury
The E6-Mercury is the deadliest plane in the American military. Photo: Alan Radecki via Wikimedia

The airborne command centers and their 22-man-strong-crew can launch both sea and land-based nuclear missiles. If need be, each aircraft can operate for 72 hours at a time with in-flight refueling.

Looking into it more in-depth, we can see that the Navy’s E6s fly all the time and often with their transponders turned on. This means that the Strategic Command told the truth and that the two planes were on regular training missions. It is easy to see why people would jump to conclusions, and I am sure the United States has a backup plan should the President become very ill.

After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963
the 25th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was ratified. Now a President can send a written declaration to Congress and the Senate, handing temporary power to the vice president.

Do you think the two E6s were on regular training missions, or was it to do with President Trump getting sick? Please tell us what you think in the comments.