The United States sent a specially adapted nuclear-proof plane from Andrews Air Force Base in Washington to RAF Mildenhall in the United Kingdom.
The Boeing 747 E4-B is fitted with nuclear and thermal shielding and is dubbed both the Doomsday Plane and the Flying Pentagon.
The aircraft, officially called Nightwatch, has steel lattice-reinforced windows and three decks of surveillance and communications equipment, and is a mobile war room and air command post – effectively a situation room in the sky.
Designed during the Cold War, the Nightwatch has three decks. It can hold a crew of 112 and can fly for 12 hours without landing, while aerial refueling means it can stay aloft for days. Her windows are said to have wire mesh to keep them intact, while onboard equipment and wiring are reinforced and there is thermal and nuclear shielding in the event of an explosion.
Inside, there are 18 berths and six bathrooms, a briefing room, a conference room, workspaces and executive quarters – but unlike Air Force One, the decor is said to be functional, suitable for its military role. The bubble on top is called a “ray dome” or “radome” and contains dozens of satellite dishes and antennas that can communicate with any US ship, submarine or aircraft anywhere in the world.
Washington has maintained a fleet of Nightwatch Boeing 747 E4-B command and control aircraft since the 1970s, for the specific purpose of providing an airborne base for the United States Secretary of Defense and senior military personnel to conduct operations during a war.
The plane can stay in the air for days and is designed to withstand the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear explosion. It conducts routine training and preparation missions. At least one E4-B is maintained on standby 24/7.
The plane was sent as the war in Ukraine continues.