Home Business Sierra Nevada Corp Says Boeing 747-8i will be used for Future US “Doomsday” Aircraft

Sierra Nevada Corp Says Boeing 747-8i will be used for Future US “Doomsday” Aircraft

Sierra Nevada Corp Says Boeing 747-8i will be used for Future US “Doomsday” Aircraft

Less than a month after the company secured a $13 billion contract from the Pentagon, the largest in its history, details have begun to emerge regarding the replacement of the current fleet of Survivable Airborne Operations Centers (SAOC), better known as the E-4B Nightwatch or “Doomsday” planes.

Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) confirmed that Boeing 747-8i airliners will be used as the base platform—after analyzing the requirements of the U.S. Air Force, experts concluded that this would be the best choice. As previously reported, Korean Air Lines will be the supplier of the aircraft for conversion, selling five units to SNC for $675 million. The first of these will arrive in the U.S. in the coming weeks.

Boeing 747-8i
Korean Air 747-8i. Image: Boeing

Although the exact number of new SAOCs has not been specified, indications suggest that the fleet will consist of 8 to 10 aircraft. SNC noted, however, that they are prepared to produce as many units as needed.

Unlike the previous E-4Bs, the new SAOCs will feature an open modular architecture, providing greater flexibility for future upgrades. This represents a fundamental shift from the previous approaches to creating such aircraft based on commercial airliners.

SNC announced that it would collaborate on this project with industry giants such as Collins Aerospace, FSE Defense, GE Aerospace, Greenpoint Technologies, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, and Rolls-Royce.

As a reminder, in 2020, the US Air Force revealed its intention to replace its E-4Bs by the 2030s as part of the Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC) program. Boeing was initially favored due to its experience in this type of capability. However, due to the inability to reach an agreement with the Pentagon regarding a fixed-price contract and likely because of delays and cost escalation of the two future presidential aircraft, ‘Air Force One,’ the company was excluded.



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