Airborne Operations Center
Using Service (US):
Air Force (USAF) - Fleet: 4x E-4B Aircraft
Upgrades and sustainment.
The E-4B Advanced Airborne Command Post aircraft is an extensively modified Boeing 747-200.
In case of national emergency or destruction of ground command control centers, the aircraft provides a highly survivable,
command, control and communications center to direct U.S. military forces, execute emergency war orders, and coordinate actions
by civil authorities. The aircraft is powered by four
CF6-50E2 turbofan engines,
each delivering 52,500 pounds of thrust.
The E-4B is used in support of the mission of National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC). NAOC supports the national decision makers and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) as a worldwide survivable and enduring node of the National Military Command System.
All four E-4Bs are assigned to the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. To provide direct support to the president, secretary of defense and the JCS, at least one E-4B is always on alert at one of a number of selected bases around the world.
The main deck is divided into six functional areas, including a command work area, conference room, briefing room, an operations team work area, and communications and rest areas. The E-4B crew includes up to 112 people, including a joint-service operations team, an ACC flight crew, a maintenance and security component, a communications team, and selected augmentees. The E-4B features electromagnetic pulse protection and an electrical system designed to support advanced electronics and a wide variety of new communications equipment. Other features include nuclear and thermal effects shielding, acoustic control, a technical control facility, and an air-conditioning system used to cool electrical components. An advanced satellite communications system provides worldwide communications between strategic and tactical satellite systems and the airborne operations center.
Boeing estimates that the current remaining design service life of the Boeing 747-200 E-4B airframe is 115,000 hours and 30,000 cycles, which will likely be reached by 2039. However, maintenance issues leading to extended depot periods is expected to limit the ability of E-4B fleet to support the NAOC mission due to aircraft non-availability. The maintenance limiting point will likely occur during the decade beginning 2020.
The E-4B is based on E-4A, which had been in service since 1974. The first B model was delivered to the Air Force in January 1980. By 1985, all aircraft were converted to the B configuration.
The E-4B is not the only Boeing 747 in U.S. military service. The Air Force is also operating two VC-25A (Air Force One) aircraft based on the B747-200 platform.
Aircraft no longer produced.
The E-4B serves as the National Airborne Operations Center for the President, Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In case of national emergency or destruction of ground command control centers, the aircraft provides a highly survivable, command, control and communications center to direct U.S. forces, execute emergency war orders and coordinate actions by civil authorities.
FY 2016 provides $20.0 million in procurement funds for E-4B modifications + $76.8 million for RDT&E.
The FY 2017 Budget requests $53.4 million in procurement funds for E-4B modifications and spares parts
+ $31.0 million for RDT&E.
The modifications provide updates to maintain Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) airframe flight worthiness certification
and provide additional capabilities to the aircraft flight control, navigation and communication systems,
as well as the primary mission equipment to ensure the E-4B is able to execute its various missions.
These modifications also enhance operational capability while improving flight safety, reliability, and maintainability.
As the E-4B aircraft age, depot periods will need to be extended due to maintenance issues associated with an aging fleet,
thus limiting the E-4B ability to support the NAOC mission due to aircraft non-availability. The age of the four E-4B aircraft fleet presents
Diminishing Manufacturing Sources (DMS) issues involving primary mission equipment, and to a lesser extent the airframe.
Airframe DMS and issues associated with the non-availability of FAA certified parts are expected to increase
due to the dwindling world-wide number of Boeing 747-200 aircraft because of the the international commercial airline industry
removing aging aircraft from their inventories.
For more information, click to view the USAF FY 2017 E-4B Modifications Budget.
Sources: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and The Boeing Company.
Last Update: July 5, 2016.
By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard Balle /// (email@example.com)
Boeing's E-4B Site: N/A
YouTube: E-4B | YouTube Videos
Fact Sheet: Not Available
E-4B U.S. Defense Budget Charts:
Primary Function: Airborne operations center