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After almost 50 years of service, the US doomsday plane is getting a simulator

US Air Force Doomsday plane
US Air Force file photo of the E-4B

The US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center’s Simulators Division recently awarded a $16 million contract to CymSTAR, LLC, to develop and sustain the first of its kind high fidelity, full motion simulator for E-4B pilots and flight engineers.

Currently, the E-4B fleet stationed at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., does not have a dedicated simulator for training, so aircrew members have to either take an aircraft out of operations to train on, or travel out of state to use a commercial 747 simulator, which doesn’t completely represent the E-4B or its capabilities.

The new simulator will fully replicate the E-4B cockpit and include aerial refueling training capability.

The E-4B which is commonly known as the “Doomsday” plane, serves as the National Airborne Operations Center, and is a key component of the national military command system. It has been in service since 1974.

In the event of a national emergency that would include the destruction of ground command and control centers, the aircraft will provide a command, control and communications center to direct US Forces and coordinate actions by civil authorities.

“Air Force Global Strike Command has an urgent need for development, acquisition and delivery of a full motion FAA level “C” equivalent E-4B simulator,” said Richard Hricko, the division’s Materiel Leader for Air Combat Simulators. “We were asked to rapidly acquire this training capability and deliver it in close proximity to Offutt AFB, NE. Delivery of this high fidelity, concurrent configuration simulator will fill a critical training gap. The toughest concurrency to maintain is air refueling, due to the limited tanker training availability, so it’s critical that we deliver this simulator with day/night air refueling capability. Providing a full capability simulator in a controlled environment will ensure a sustained highly-skilled E-4B mission ready aircrew. In addition, the close proximity of the simulator to the operational aircrew will enable increased scheduled training, as well as additional surge capability to conduct unscheduled short notice mission critical training.”

The division is working closely with the AFLCMC Presidential and Executive Airlift Directorate – responsible for the recapitalization and sustainment of the E-4B fleet – to ensure the new simulator meets Air Force Global Strike Command’s training requirements. The directorate provided new start coordination/approval and required funding for the development effort, as well as E-4B technical expertise.

“This is truly a team effort and we could not be successful by ourselves,” said Col. John Kurian, the Senior Materiel Leader of the Simulators Division. “Going forward, without this capability [simulator] aircrew would have to train on real jets. This effort will free up low density, high value assets for the mission, and save money because it’s cheaper to train on a simulator versus a real jet. So it’s critical that we provide this capability to the warfighter.”

First phase of the development effort has started with delivery of a ready for training simulator expected to occur in April 2022, the air force said.