Was “Flying Nuclear Command Center” Deployed When Trump Tested Positive For Coronavirus?

Filed Under: Misc.

People in the US are waking up today to the news that President Trump has tested positive for coronavirus.

Around the same time, something fascinating gained a lot of traction on aviation Twitter. Specifically, did the Boeing E-6 Mercury, often referred to as a “flying nuclear command center,” start flying around to warn adversaries not to attack the US? That was a rather sobering thought…

Basics of the Boeing E-6 Mercury

The E-6 Mercury is a modified version of the Boeing 707. 16 were built, with the first entering service in 1989 (these were the last 707s produced). These planes are intended to provide command and control of US nuclear forces in the event that ground-based control becomes inoperable.

They can operate a mission known as TACAMO, which stands for “TAke Charge And Move Out.” If needed, the plane could operate for up to 72 hours with inflight refuelings.

Was an E-6 deployed because of Trump’s coronavirus?

As mentioned above, a Twitter user pointed out that a Boeing E-6 was flying near DC just shortly before it was officially announced that Trump tested positive for coronavirus:

  • Was this actually intended as a warning to adversaries with submarine-launched ballistic missiles or intercontinental ballistic missiles?
  • Was the plane flying specifically because of the imminent announcement of the president of the United States having coronavirus?

A lot of reputable people seemed to believe this, noting that the Pentagon is taking Trump’s diagnosis seriously by deploying these planes.

However, it would appear that this isn’t quite as scandalous as it sounds. As mentioned above, there are several of these planes, and some are publicly trackable (presumably intentionally, to show “adversaries” that they are flying). To look at the flight activity for two of these planes:

  • One of these has been flying 20 of the past 31 days
  • Another one of these has been flying 18 of the past 31 days

And that’s just for a couple of the planes…

It does increasingly seem like this had very little to do with Trump testing positive for coronavirus, and a lot more to do with the normal training exercises these planes undergo (or maybe just reminders to other countries with nukes that they exist?).

Bottom line

Yes, a “flying nuclear command center” was spotted on radar near DC around the same time that Trump’s positive coronavirus test result was revealed. However, it seems unlikely that the two are connected.

It appears the US wasn’t specifically trying to send a message to adversaries that the US was still on alert in light of the president quarantining, but rather that’s just what these planes are constantly doing, I suppose.

Interesting/scary thing to think about though, eh?

(Featured image courtesy of Balon Greyjoy)

  1. As a former aircrew member on the E-6B from 2003-2009, I can say that it was probably a routine mission and had nothing to do with the President.

  2. It’s when the E-4B starts flying with the President on it when you need to worry. This is probably routine exercise. Serious though COVID is, it’s not like the President has been incapacitated

  3. Hey, Ben, have you reported on the Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi becoming a Mandarin Oriental-managed property? Thought you might be interested to know

  4. It terrifies me enough that nukes exist. It terrifies me even more that there’s a fleet of planes flown by the US military that can act as a command center for nukes in the event that they can no longer be controlled from the ….

    This comment section will be the highlight of my day.

  5. A nuclear war from Trump is less likely than Trump launching a Twitter war or a war against American voting/voters/election results.

  6. @Scott Schultz does that make you Airforce, or is it a separate/individual entity? Sounds like an amazing experience.

  7. ‘don’t attack us’

    sounds more like a line from a Tom Clancy (other authors are available) novel.

  8. @iflyfar

    tRump is a known, serial & proven liar! So why on earth would we believe him today? Has he earned your trust now? The constitution does not allow for delaying or postponement of the elections, but tRump doesn’t give a f*ck about the constitution. He and his thug Attorney General Barr have no shame and will stop at nothing to stay in power!

  9. Stupid Fear mongering article. Hey Ben, elections have consequences, Donald Trump is the president, get over your liberal crying.

  10. I am pretty sure that one of these planes is used as standard transportation for the Secretary of Defense — it could be related, but I believe that he does use these planes for regular trips.

  11. @iflyfar – best comment of the day!

    @Justin – being a sh!tty president also has consequences – enjoy the final 30 days of the “leadership” of The Worst President In US History. Stand back and stand by…

  12. Looks like the flights are of no new significance. If it’s meant to send a message, it is not a clear message.

    Trump supporters should be hoping Trump goes to the ICU and Pence takes over because Biden might lose in that scenario. Millions hate Trump’s personality but remove that personality and they would be ok with Pence.

    Biden supporters should hope that Trump has a speedy recovery and is not very ill from Covid-19. Then Biden would win big in the election.

  13. This was even listed on BBC’s website among the “disinformation” and “false claims” that started spreading today. Suggest you don’t spread that further.

  14. @Peter US Navy flies the E-6B out of Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City. We used to call it NAS Tinker.

  15. Another idiotic response by the rabid DNC spokesman Kalboz. What a crock of BS ! Did you even read the article. This has nothing to do with the upcoming election!

  16. Ben, did you see the Emirates Palace is now a Mandarin Oriental? What are your thoughts? And did you finally get a Rimowa or an Away?

  17. This is a TPG level article. You’re better Ben! (Also, don’t disable your comment section like they did)

  18. @JP these are definitely not regularly used by SecDef (I was a former E6 crew member). For anyone interested there in an old YT video about the TACAMO mission.

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