USAF's Next Airborne Nuclear Command-And-Control Aircraft, Needs Four Engines

The U.S. Air Force (USAF) plans to increase spending for its next airborne nuclear command-and-control aircraft, and it most likely will choose used aircraft.

USAF currently uses an aging fleet of Boeing E-4Bs. 

The 595th Command and Control Group's commander, Col. Brian Golden urged that "the capabilities of the current fleet have shown one critical capability the follow-on aircraft needs: four engines".

For the operators of the E-4B Nightwatch, the aircraft needs four engines, and it has to be heavy. The fact that it might be older and used is less important. 

Learn more about this story including how much USAF's fiscal budget request calls for in research and development, test and engineering funding, and why the Boeing fleet of E-4Bs has become an issue.

Golden said. “You don’t have to buy a brand-new aircraft. It’s not like a car. . . . You can buy an older aircraft—a few years old, five years old, it doesn’t matter—and the engineers will strip it down and build it back up. So it’s not a risk at all.

"For the jet’s classified missions, the extra power and redundancies mean four engines are needed. And it needs to be big."

“You need a very large, four-engine aircraft to execute our mission set,” Golden says. “There was a lot of discussion on: Could it be done on two engines? Partly. A lot of risk would have to be taken, and it wasn’t the Air Force’s risk to take. . . . So those type of decisions have already been made, and they’re moving out pretty soon.”

The government wants a full and open acquisition strategy using a “very large platform,” and the government is “willing to consider used commercial derivative aircraft.”

This is an abbreviated version of an article by Brian Everstine that appeared in Aviation Week & Space Technology. Subscribers can discover more about USAF's next airborne nuclear command-and-control aircraft by reading the full article "USAF Says Boeing E-4B Replacement Will Need Four Engines".

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This mean cherry picking all the late gen 747s sitting parked due to lack of demand.
The issue of 4 engines providing extra safety is something that I have often pondered on when it comes to long oceanic flights such as across the Pacific. What hit me was the statement by the USAF of ...... Could it be done on two engines? Partly. A lot of risk would have to be taken. ... From this we can deduce that there is significant risk in using 2 engine aircraft on long over-water flights. It is an interesting consideration and a prompt to reconsider the 747 for commercial passenger use.
The USAF should have ordered at least 10 747-8. It would have not been wa waste of money.
I remember the discussions that went on for years about all long over water flights needing to be by 4 engine airliners. The conclusion seemed to be that more engines meant more complexity which is the enemy of reliability. Some comedian mentioned that "you don't get engine failure in a glider" !!