E-4 Advanced Airborne Command Post

E-4 Advanced Airborne Command Post

Historical Snapshot

The huge capacity of the Boeing 747 made it an ideal airframe for the Advanced Airborne Command Post (E-4). In 1973, the E-4 took over the mission of the EC-135 flying command post aircraft: to provide safe airborne headquarters for military and civilian leaders, including the president, secretary of Defense, and Joint Chiefs of Staff in times of emergency.

The original three E-4As were upgraded to the standard of the E-4B. The first B model was delivered Dec. 21, 1979, and entered service in January 1980. By 1985, all aircraft were converted to B models.

The four E-4s carry 13 external communications systems and are designed for missions lasting 72 hours. Their "hardness" features protect the crew from electromagnetic radiation and the effects of a nuclear blast.

Secondary missions assigned to the E-4B include VIP travel support and Federal Emergency Management Agency support, which provides communications to relief efforts following natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

All E-4Bs are assigned to the 595th Command and Control Group at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.

Technical Specifications

First flight June 19, 1973
Airframe Model 747
Classification Advanced Airborne Command Post
Span 195 feet 8 inches
Length 231 feet 4 inches
Gross weight 800,000 pounds
Top speed More than 600 mph at 30,000 feet
Endurance More than 12 hours
Ceiling 45,000 feet plus
Power Four 52,000-pound-thrust F103-GE-100 turbofan engines
Accommodation Up to 94 personnel, including flightcrew and 30 battle staff members