This month, the Air Force 595th Command and Control Group at Offutt AFB, Neb., received the first high fidelity, full motion simulator for nuclear command and control (C2)/disaster C2 aircraft to aid training, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio said.

Boeing [BA] built the E-4Bs.

“Prior to development of the new simulator, E-4B aircrew training relied on a non-E-4B representative Boeing 747 training device — located in Florida — or on the limited training sorties available due to the high mission operational need,” per AFLCMC, which developed the simulator. “With a small aircraft fleet, this simulator provides a strategic training advantage, enabling recurring and upgrade training while retaining aircraft availability for operations.”

Air Force Maj. David Meyn, E-4B program section chief, said in a statement that the new simulator permits E-4B aircrews “to gain proficiency in flight procedures as well as practice dangerous emergency situations that cannot be performed in the aircraft.”

“For example, shutting down multiple engines or practicing recovery from stall conditions would not be attempted on the aircraft but can be performed safely in the simulator,” he said.

AFLCMC said that its simulator division worked with the center’s presidential and executive airlift directorate, which oversees the E-4B program, to check that the new simulator met Air Force Global Strike Command’s training requirements.

The Air Force is undertaking a Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC) program to replace the aging E-4B National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC), possibly with a used, commercial derivative aircraft (Defense Daily, Oct. 18, 2021).

The Air Force has said that it intends “to pursue a full and open acquisition strategy for the entire [SAOC] weapon system using a very large platform.” While the Air Force and U.S. Navy have been exploring options for a joint replacement of the E-4B and the Navy’s E-6B Mercury Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO) plane, the services now look as if they will buy different airframes (Defense Daily, Feb. 2).

The Navy said last year that it plans to recapitalize the Boeing E-6B with the Lockheed Martin [LMT] C-130J airframe–a move that harks back to the time when EC-130Qs served as Navy TACAMO aircraft between December 1963 and August 1993. The larger E-6B, based on the Boeing 707 airliner designed in the 1950s, replaced the EC-130Qs in the early 1990s.

The Air Force’s engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase for SAOC is to include two to four modified EMD aircraft, associated ground support equipment, and a SAOC weapons system production design.

SAOC is an ACAT 1D program–a category that includes programs with an estimated research and development expense of $525 million or more than $3 billion in procurement in fiscal 2020 dollars.

The E-4B—known as the “doomsday plane”—is a militarized version of the Boeing 747-200 airliner and would serve as the NAOC for the president, defense secretary, and Joint Chiefs of Staff to direct military forces, deliver emergency war orders, and coordinate civil authorities in the case of destruction of ground command and control centers.