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Sat Feb 3, 2024, 08:23 AM Feb 2024

On This Day: "Doomsday planes" for nuclear war begin continuous flight for 29 years - Feb. 3, 1961

(edited from Wikipedia)
Operation Looking Glass

Operation Looking Glass is the historic code name for an airborne command and control center operated by the United States. It provides command and control of U.S. nuclear forces in the event that ground-based command centers have been destroyed or otherwise rendered inoperable. In such an event, the general officer aboard the Looking Glass serves as the Airborne Emergency Action Officer and by law assumes the authority of the National Command Authority and could command execution of nuclear attacks.

The Strategic Air Command began the Looking Glass mission on February 3, 1961, using five specially modified KC-135A aircraft.

EC-135 Looking Glass aircraft were airborne 24 hours a day for over 29 years, until July 24, 1990, when "The Glass" ceased continuous airborne alert, but remained on ground or airborne alert 24 hours a day.

Looking Glass battle staff

The AEAO is supported by a battle staff of approximately 20 people, with another dozen responsible for the operation of the aircraft systems. The name Looking Glass, which is another name for a mirror, was chosen for the Airborne Command Post because the mission operates in parallel with the underground command post at Offutt Air Force Base.

The EC-135 Looking Glass aircraft were equipped with the Airborne Launch Control System, capable of transmitting launch commands to U.S. ground-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in the event that the ground launch control centers were rendered inoperable.

The Looking Glass was the anchor in what was known as the World Wide Airborne Command Post (WWABNCP) network. This network of specially equipped EC-135 aircraft would launch from ground alert status and establish air-to-air wireless network connections in the event of a U.S. national emergency.

Current status

On October 1, 1998 the United States Navy fleet of E-6Bs replaced the EC-135C in performing the "Looking Glass" mission.

If the USSTRATCOM Global Operations Center (GOC) is unable to function in its role, the E-6B Looking Glass can assume command of all U.S. nuclear-capable forces.

In addition to being able to direct the launch of ICBMs using the Airborne Launch Control System, the E-6B can communicate Emergency Action Messages (EAM) to nuclear submarines running at depth by extending a two and a half-mile-long trailing wire antenna.


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On This Day: "Doomsday planes" for nuclear war begin continuous flight for 29 years - Feb. 3, 1961 (Original Post) jgo Feb 2024 OP
Its the end of the world and I feel fine. not spike jones Feb 2024 #1
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