The US "Doomsday Plane" has been spotted flying over Nebraska amid rising tensions with Russia.
At the height of the Cold War, when nuclear exchanges seemed like a plausible scenario, both the US and the Soviet Union commissioned Doomsday planes. They are designed to function as flying war rooms, from which the superpowers' leaders could issue commands should a nuclear conflict ensue.
The planes are theoretically capable of surviving a nuclear attack, plus the effects of electromagnetic pulse, while keeping the leaders in touch with other world leaders through satellite communication.
The US's National Airborne Operations Center, seen on Monday as reported by iNews, was a converted Boeing E-4B plane codenamed Nightwatch, boasting an array of defensive features.
"The E-4B is protected against the effects of electromagnetic pulse and has an electrical system designed to support advanced electronics and a wide variety of communications equipment," the US Air Force writes on their website.
"An advanced satellite communications system provides worldwide communication for senior leaders through the airborne operations center. Other improvements include nuclear and thermal effects shielding, acoustic control, an improved technical control facility and an upgraded air-conditioning system for cooling electrical components."
The planes are capable of being refueled in the air, only needing to descend to lubricate the engine about once a week.
During the test flight on Monday, the plane flew for 4.5 hours on a route to Chicago. The US Government did not respond to iNews about whether the training exercise was a response to Russia's announcement on Sunday that nuclear forces had been put on a “special mode of combat duty”.
As you'd expect with top-secret, nuclear-bomb surviving planes, the US is fairly tight-lipped about the planes and their movements. There's no suggestion that President Biden was on the plane on Monday, which was accompanied by two Cobra Ball jets.