E-4 Airborne Command Post

E-4 Airborne Command Post

Historical Snapshot

The huge capacity of the Boeing 747 made it an ideal airframe for the Advanced Airborne Command Post (E-4). In 1973, the E-4 took over the mission of the EC-135 flying command post aircraft: to provide safe airborne headquarters for military and civilian leaders, including the president, secretary of Defense, and Joint Chiefs of Staff in times of emergency.

The original three E-4As were upgraded to the standard of the E-4B. The first B model was delivered Dec. 21, 1979, and entered service in January 1980. By 1985, all aircraft were converted to B models.

The four E-4s carry 13 external communications systems and are designed for missions lasting 72 hours. Their "hardness" features protect the crew from electromagnetic radiation and the effects of a nuclear blast.

Secondary missions assigned to the E-4B include VIP travel support and Federal Emergency Management Agency support, which provides communications to relief efforts following natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

All E-4B aircraft are assigned to the 55th Wing, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

Technical Specifications

First flight June 19, 1973
Airframe Model 747
Classification Advanced Airborne Command Post
Span 195 feet 8 inches
Length 231 feet 4 inches
Gross weight 800,000 pounds
Top speed More than 600 mph at 30,000 feet
Endurance More than 12 hours
Ceiling 45,000 feet plus
Power Four 52,000-pound-thrust F103-GE-100 turbofan engines
Accommodation Up to 94 personnel, including flightcrew and 30 battle staff members