Survival of the Richest: Rolls-Royce’s Doomsday Aircraft

Rolls-Royce is supplying advanced technology for a new US Air Force aircraft designed to withstand nuclear blasts. This aircraft is part of the Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC) project involving multiple aerospace companies.

By Priyal Dutta
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Rolls-Royce is working on the planes with the Sierra Nevada Corporation

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Rolls-Royce, renowned for its contributions to the aerospace and automotive industries, has secured a contract with the US Air Force. The company will supply advanced technology for a new aircraft engineered to endure nuclear blasts. The aerospace and automobile company will be working alongside defence giant Sierra Nevada Corporation, which was awarded a $13 billion contract by the Pentagon in April to develop the next generation of the doomsday planes. This initiative is critical to the Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC). This cutting-edge aircraft represents a significant technological advancement and is slated to replace the current E-4B, commonly known as the "doomsday plane." 

Rolls-Royce is the world's second-largest maker of aircraft engines

 Doomsday Plane and its Features


  • It is designed to resist electromagnetic pulses and nuclear explosions.
  • The E-4B planes, serving as mobile command centres, can accommodate 111 people.
  • The E-4B planes are crucial in times of crisis as they can function as a mobile command centre if ground facilities are destroyed and can be refuelled mid-air.
  • They are designed to transport high-ranking government officials such as the US President, military leaders, and the Secretary of Defense.
  • With a mobile command centre on board, they can communicate with any US military base worldwide.


E-4B planes are militarized versions of the Boeing 747-200 jumbo jet

The aircraft is equipped with a conference room, a command work area, spaces for operations teams, briefing rooms, break rooms, and communication areas in addition to its essential functions. Four of these aircraft are currently operational. Given their crucial role in emergencies, at least one aircraft is consistently maintained on standby at specified US military bases worldwide.

The contract for the new project is expected to run up to July 2036

 SAOC Project Aims to Replace the Aging E-4B Fleet

The SAOC project, expected to be completed by 2036, will encompass work at multiple sites in Ohio, Colorado, and Nevada. Its objective is to replace the ageing E-4B fleet, which is becoming increasingly challenging to maintain due to the difficulty in finding replacement parts.


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