E-6B Mercury/TACAMO

Product Type:

Airborne Command Post and Communications Relay Aircraft

Using Service (US):

Navy

Program Status:

Sustainment

Prime Contractor:

The Boeing Company

The Boeing E-6B Mercury/TACAMO

About the E-6B Program:





The U.S. Navy's E-6B Mercury (formerly E-6A Hermes) is a modified Boeing 707-320B, which is uniquely configured to perform Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO), Airborne Command Post, and Airborne Launch Control System (ALCS) missions. The E-6B is powered by four CFM International CFM56-2A2 high-bypass turbofan engines, each delivering 24,000 pounds of thrust. As of March 2012, there are 16 E-6B aircraft in the Navy's inventory.

Boeing derived the older E-6A from its commercial 707-320B platform to replace the U.S. Navy's aging fleet of EC-130Q TACAMO aircraft. TACAMO links the National Command Authority (NCA) with naval ballistic missile forces during times of crisis. The Navy accepted the first E-6A in August 1989 with the final 16th aircraft delivered in 1992.

The E-6B was designed to replace the Air Force's fleet of EC-135 Airborne Command Post aircraft. The E-6B is simply a modified E-6A with added battlestaff positions and other specialized equipment. The E-6B is a dual-mission aircraft capable of fulfilling either the E-6A TACAMO mission or the airborne strategic command post mission. Also, the aircraft is equipped with an airborne launch control system (ALCS). The ALCS is capable of launching U.S. land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). In charge of upgrading the E-6As to the E-6B configuration, Boeing replaced more than 100 analog cockpit instruments with six flat-panel digital displays and dual flight management systems. Cockpit improvements were taken from the more modern Boeing 777 and 737NG commercial airliners (glass cockpit). Boeing also integrated new battle management command and control communications equipment that link the E-6B to the Navy's airborne strategic command and control system. The first E-6B aircraft was accepted in December 1997 and the E-6B assumed its dual operational mission in October 1998. By December 2006, Boeing had modified all aircraft to the E-6B configuration.

The E-6B has a normal crew complement of 13 (three pilots, two naval flight officers, and eight enlisted men). In wartime, the E-6B has a battlestaff Crew of 22. All 16 E-6B aircraft are stationed at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma and operated by the VQ-3 "Ironmen" and VQ-4 "Shadows" squadrons.

The E-6B is currently undergoing significant upgrades and modifications, including a Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) designed to extend the life of the E-6B to 2040. E-6B aircraft are expected to reach the end of their service life of 45,000 hours around 2040. E-6B modifications and upgrade contractors include The Boeing Company (Airframe and ADWS/Avionics); Rockwell Collins and L-3 Communications (Block I); Lockheed Martin (Mission Computer Set); and L-3 Communications/VERTEX (contractor logistics support).



Armament/Weapons:

None.



Mission/Role:

The primary mission of the E-6B is to serve as a communications relay platform for very-low frequency transmissions to U.S. nuclear forces (TACAMO). Additionally it performs as Airborne Command Post for the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM). Also, it can assume the role as a back-up for ICBM launches (ALCS).



FY 2016 DoD Program:

FY 2016 provides $179.0 million to continue E-6B modifications and upgrades. The major modification line items in FY 17 are the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), the Communications Upgrade, Block I Modifications, the Multi-Role Tactical Common Data Link (MR-TCDL), Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), and the Family of Advanced Beyond-Line-of-Sight Terminals/Presidential and National Voice Conferencing (FAB-T/PNVC) upgrade.



FY 2017 DoD Program:

The FY 2017 Budget requests $222.1 million to continue E-6B modifications and upgrades. The major modification line items in FY 17 are the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP), the Communications Upgrade, Block I Modifications, the Multi-Role Tactical Common Data Link (MR-TCDL), Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), and the Family of Advanced Beyond-Line-of-Sight Terminals/Presidential and National Voice Conferencing (FAB-T/PNVC) upgrade.

For more information, click to see the FY 2017 Navy E-6B Modifications Budget.




Source: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), The Boeing Company,
and CFM International.

Specifications Armament DoD Spending FY2017 Budget

Last Update: June 27, 2016.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard Balle /// (kasper.oestergaard@forecast1.com)

External Resources:



The Boeing Company: E-6B Mercury/TACAMO



YouTube: E-6B Mercury/TACAMO | YouTube Videos



Fact Sheet: E-6B Mercury/TACAMO | Fact Sheet

E-6B U.S. Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on the E-6B Mercury/TACAMO in FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015, FY 2016 and FY 2017
DoD Purchases of E-6B Mercury/TACAMO Aircraft in FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Defense Budget Data

DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2013/14/15 + Budget for FYs 2016 + 2017

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DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the E-6B Mercury TACAMO

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

Modification of E-6B Aircraft (NAVY)
Specifications

Aircraft Specifications: E-6B Mercury/TACAMO

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Primary Function: TACAMO; Airborne command post for U.S. Strategic forces; and ALCS
Prime Contractor: The Boeing Co.
Propulsion: 4x CFM International CFM56-2A2 high-bypass turbofan engines
Thrust: 24,000 pounds (each engine)
Length: 150 ft 4 in (45.8 m)
Height: 42 ft 5 in (12.9 m)
Wingspan: 148 ft 4 in (45.2 m)
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 342,000 lbs (155,131 kg)
Fuel Capacity: 163,150 lbs (74,005 kg)
Speed: 522 kts/600 mph (960 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 40,000+ ft (18,144+ m)
Range: 6,600 nm/7,590 miles (12,144 km)
Crew: Normal Complement: 13 (three pilots, two naval flight officers, eight enlisted men); Battlestaff Crew: 22
Price/Unit Cost: $141.7 million
First Flight: February 19, 1987
Deployed: E-6A: March 1989; E-6B: October 1998
Inventory: Active Navy: 16


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