Air Force says tornado damaged 2 ‘Doomsday’ 747s
By TARA COPP | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 23, 2017
WASHINGTON — A tornado that struck in Omaha last week damaged two of the “Doomsday” 747 aircraft that serve as the national command center for the United States in the case of an attack, the Air Force said Friday.
Offutt Air Force Base, which serves as home to the nation’s four E-4B aircraft, was hit by the tornado June 16. The planes are used by the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State for international visits and maintain all communications, including with the nation’s nuclear missile silos and nuclear submarines, in case of an attack.
Ten aircraft, including the two 747s, were damaged by the tornado, said Capt. Mark Graff, an Air Force spokesman.
Graff said the other two 747s were not damaged by the tornado and can be used as the national airborne operations center.
Of the base’s eight RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft, seven had minor damage, Graff said. Six of the damaged planes have been returned to flight status, he said.
The tornado was fast-moving, said Col. Pat Ryder, an Air Force spokesman.
“They attempted to hangar as many [planes] as they could,” he said. “Obviously some were damaged.”
Ryder said the primary E-4B – the one that is always on alert status ready to take off in case of emergency – was not affected.
The Air Force is still assessing the level of damage to the two other 747s, Ryder said.
The tornado also damaged buildings and trees on the Nebraska base.