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Boeing E-4 Advanced Airborne Command Post

National Emergency Airborne Command Post Aircraft

The Boeing E-4, covering four converted Boeing 747 aircraft, serves as an airborne government platform in the event of a national emergency.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 10/23/2017
National Flag Graphic


Year: 1975
Status: Active, In-Service
Manufacturer(s): Boeing - USA
Production: 4
Crew: 4
Length: 231.30 ft (70.5 m)
Width: 195.87 ft (59.7 m)
Height: 63.32 ft (19.3 m)
Weight (Empty): 418,878 lb (190,000 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 826,403 lb (374,850 kg)
Power: 4 x General Electric CF6-50E2 turbofan engines developing 52,500 lb of thrust each.
Speed: 603 mph (970 kph; 524 kts)
Ceiling: 45,932 feet (14,000 m; 8.7 miles)
Range: 7,140 miles (11,490 km; 6,204 nm)
Operators: United States
Since introduction in 1974, the Boeing E-4 Advanced Airborne Command Post has served the United States Air Force (USAF) in the flying Command and Control (C2) post. There were four total examples produced and these directly succeeded the aging line of EC-135J platforms. The E-4 was developed atop the framework of the Boeing 747-200 commercial airliner and serves with the 595th Command and Control Group out of Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska under the banner of the 1st Airborne Command Control Squadron.

The fleet were born through a 1973 initiative which originally involved two airframes and these came to be known under the designation of "E-4A" (powered by 4 x Pratt & Whitney JT9D series engines). By the end of 1975, a third aircraft was added to the group and this entry was powered by 4 x General Electric GE F103 (CF6) engines. The E-4B variant was a "one-off" conversion aircraft with additional equipment (including a noticeable dorsal spine bulge) and this arrived in the fleet during December of 1979. In 1985, the original three aircraft were revised to the B-model standard and the CF6 engine powered them all. A modernization of the entire fleet was had in 2005 during the post-9/11 period.

Externally the aircraft closely resembles the Boeing 747 product complete with its two-story frontal section, four-engined layout, and single tail fin. A series of antenna protrude from the spine of the fuselage showcasing the many systems and sensors the aircraft carries. Internally, the aircraft is arranged as a series of compartments which are used to accomplish various tasks in the event of a national emergency. While the standard operating crew is four (including two pilots), the fuselage can situate over 100 personnel to cover critical functions during a national emergency. The aircraft is fully-equipped with advanced systems as well as countermeasures and other protective means (including EMP resistance and nuclear shielding). An in-flight refueling capability extends the range of the E-4 command post considerably over the previous EC-135J platforms they replaced.

At least one E-4 is held "on-call" at any given time and regularly deploys with the President of the United States when overseas trips are on the schedule. When the President is aboard an E-4, the aircraft uses the callsign of "Air Force One".

The Northrop Grumman E-10 MC2A, built upon the framework of the Boeing 767-400ER - was intended as the direct successor to the E-4 but the project was cancelled in 2007.



Cockpit Picture

Variants / Models

• E-4A - Initial Production Models; three examples produced; later brought to E-4B standard.
• E-4B - Fitted with CF6-50E2 engines of 52,500lb thrust each; EMP protection; special shielding from thermal and nuclear sources; additional specialized equipment.
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