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  • If there ever were a nuclear war

  • and all US military ground communication was destroyed,

  • this $223 million plane

  • would become the command and control center

  • for the US military's most senior officials.

  • This is the E-4B "Nightwatch."

  • It's basically a flying war room

  • designed to withstand a nuclear blast.

  • Ryan Pickrell: I like to think of the E-4B as kind of like

  • a flying backup Pentagon.

  • Potentially more secure than the Pentagon.

  • If you're seeing it at its maximum capability,

  • which hopefully we never do,

  • yeah, you're looking at an apocalyptic scenario,

  • which is why it's affectionately known as

  • the "doomsday plane."

  • Narrator: Four E-4Bs make up

  • the National Airborne Operations Center.

  • And the US Air Force is responsible

  • for the operation of all four of them

  • out of Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Nebraska.

  • The retrofitted Boeing 747s were made for war.

  • Originally designed in 1973, the E-4 series planes

  • were thought to be the best way

  • a president during the Cold War

  • might survive a nuclear explosion.

  • And since their inception, one of the doomsday planes

  • has stood on alert 24/7.

  • Edward Garcia: Because we're a 24/7 ops mission,

  • we are not a non-deployable unit due to our proximity

  • to the president and all other key assets at one time.

  • But, day to day, it is highly important

  • because we can assume the role of a primary command center,

  • much like the Pentagon is, much like strat-com can be.

  • We can assume that role in the air as well.

  • Narrator: In the immediate aftermath of a nuclear blast,

  • the president, the secretary of defense,

  • and the joint chiefs of staff

  • would all be safe aboard the E-4B.

  • From there, they could order nuclear strikes

  • or execute emergency war orders.

  • And while the majority of the E-4B's capabilities

  • are classified, we do know a few things.

  • The plane has three decks and can hold a crew

  • of up to 112 people.

  • With four massive engines, the E-4B can fly

  • for 12 hours straight without refueling,

  • though with aerial refueling capabilities

  • it could theoretically fly for several days.

  • It costs nearly $160,000 per hour to fly the E-4B,

  • making it the most expensive airplane

  • the Air Force operates.

  • And it's built to survive a nuclear blast.

  • To prevent radiation, the windows have a wired mesh,

  • similar to what you'd see on the window of a microwave.

  • Equipment and wiring on board are hardened

  • to survive an electromagnetic pulse.

  • There's also thermal and nuclear shielding

  • and direct-fire countermeasures.

  • Aboard the plane, space is broken down

  • to optimize war coordination.

  • At the front of the plane,

  • executive quarters house the senior military officials.

  • The upper rest has 18 bunks available

  • for the Air Force crew.

  • They work 24-hour, seven-day shifts and sleep on board.

  • Beneath that is the secure conference room,

  • where the joint chiefs, president,

  • and secretary of defense can give war orders.

  • The briefing room is where officials

  • can update the traveling press, or battle staff,

  • on strategy and coordination efforts.

  • In the center of the plane,

  • officers from every branch of the military

  • will hammer out a strategy in the event of a crisis.

  • This base is known as the battle-staff room.

  • And all outside communication happens

  • at the back of the aircraft

  • from the communication and technical control room.

  • From here, operators can communicate

  • with virtually anyone in the world,

  • in any situation.

  • Scott McCandless: It's designed that,

  • in the most austere environments,

  • during or after a nuclear war,

  • it survives and can communicate,

  • from the most cutting-edge communications technology

  • to old, antiquated communications technology.

  • We have the ability to endure and communicate

  • with fielded forces and the rest of the US government.

  • Narrator: That bubble on top of the E-4B

  • is where all the communication technology is held.

  • It's called the "ray dome," and an estimated

  • 67 satellite dishes and antennas are kept here.

  • The E-4B has more communication capabilities

  • than Air Force One.

  • There's even a 5-mile-long "tail" that can be extended

  • behind the plane to allow for communication

  • with submarines that are underwater.

  • But even with all the fancy communication tech,

  • you'd be surprised at how old-school

  • the rest of the technology on board is.

  • There's no digital, and there's no touch screens.

  • Everything is analog. And that's on purpose.

  • That vintage vibe continues throughout the airplane.

  • Pickrell: The E-4B doesn't really have windows,

  • and it's actually really drab on the inside.

  • You're looking at kind of a beige color

  • that looks like it came straight out of the 1970s or '80s,

  • which it did.

  • Narrator: The doomsday plane's utilitarian nature is

  • completely intentional to keep the focus on the job at hand:

  • preparing for the worst.

  • But hopefully we'll never have to see

  • the doomsday plane at its full capacity.

  • During peacetime, the E-4B's main job is to transport

  • the secretary of defense on foreign trips,

  • and one always follows the president in Air Force One

  • on overseas visits.

  • Garcia: The mission is very tedious, it is, no kidding,

  • one of the most arduous things that you could possibly do,

  • but it's so rewarding in the sense of,

  • every day you know that you're doing something

  • or you're preparing for the worst.

If there ever were a nuclear war

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B1 中級 美國腔

价值2.23亿美元的“末日飞机”(Inside The Military’s $223 Million 'Doomsday Plane')

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    joey joey 發佈於 2021 年 05 月 26 日
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