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Rolls Royce wins new contract for nuclear proof 'doomsday' plane

The Rolls-Royce logo is seen on the new Rolls-Royce Serenity on the second press day of the Geneva International Motor Show Wednesday, March 4, 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Rolls-Royce logo is seen on the new Rolls-Royce Serenity on the second press day of the Geneva International Motor Show Wednesday, March 4, 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland. Copyright Laurent Cipriani/AP
Copyright Laurent Cipriani/AP
By Indrabati Lahiri
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These aircraft are equipped with mobile command centres, operations areas, conference rooms and more and can also resist electromagnetic pulses. They would carry the US President and top military leaders in the event of a national emergency.

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The aerospace and automobile giant Rolls Royce has recently revealed that it has been successful in securing a contract to provide technology for the next-generation version of the US Air Force’s nuclear-blast resistant aircraft.

This aircraft will be the new version of the E-4B planes, dubbed the ‘doomsday plane’, for its capacity to resist electromagnetic pulses and nuclear blasts. This will be part of the Survivable Airborne Operations Centre (SAOC) project, which a number of aerospace companies are working on, headed by Sierra Nevada Corporation.

During times of crisis, the E-4B planes can prove invaluable, capable of housing a mobile command centre, to take over seamlessly from destroyed ground facilities. The aircraft can also be refuelled in the air. 

The planes, which have a seating capacity of about 111 people, would be used to fly key members of the government such as the US President, the joint military chiefs and the secretary of defence. The mobile command centre on board allows the aircraft to communicate with any US military base in the world.

Apart from these facilities, the plane also has a conference room, a command work area, a space for an operations team, briefing room, break rooms and communications spaces.

As of now there are four of these aircraft currently operational. Due to their importance in emergency situations, there is always at least one on standby at a specific US military base globally.

The SAOC project which is expected to be completed in 2036 will involve work in different US sites in Ohio, Colorado and Nevada.

The project is being undertaken because the ageing fleet of existing E-4B planes, are becoming increasingly difficult to maintain as parts have also become harder to track down.

Rolls Royce' senior executive Adam Riddle said in a press release: "For decades, Rolls-Royce has powered military operations around the world with reliable, cutting-edge technologies- safely transporting service members on their missions.

"Now we are proud to pair our proven pedigree with the collective expertise of SNC and the rest of the SAOC team to ensure our military leaders have the platform to protect our national security when it matters most."

Sierra Neveda Corporation's senior executive Jon Piatt also said in the press release: "SNC is very excited to collaborate with Rolls-Royce putting its vast experience to work on this crucial Air Force mission.

"We are certain that Rolls-Royce will prove a valuable partner in maintaining a strategic edge to protect the country when it matters most."

Rolls Royce recently started mini nuclear reactor testing in Sheffield, in a deal worth £15 million (€17.61 million) with Sheffield University.

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