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The Boeing E-6 Mercury is an Americanmarker military aircraft. It operates as an airborne command post and communications center, relaying instructions from the National Command Authority. Its role in relaying to the fleet ballistic missile submarines gives one of its missions the acronym TACAMO ("Take Charge and Move Out").

Design and development

Like the E-3 Sentry AWACS, the E-6 Mercury is adapted from Boeing's 707-320 commercial airliner. Only one version of the E-6 currently exists, the E-6B. The E-6B is an upgraded version of the E-6A that now includes a battlestaff area and new flight deck systems replacing the aging 1970s-style cockpit with an off-the-shelf 737 Next Generation cockpit. This greatly increases the situational awareness of the pilot and saves significant cost over a custom avionics package.

The first E-6A was accepted by the US Navy in August 1989, sixteen were delivered up to 1992. The first E-6B was accepted in December 1997 and the entire E-6 fleet was modified to the E-6B standard, with the final delivery taking place on 1 December 2006.

Operational history

Codenamed Looking Glass, it is USSTRATCOM's Airborne Command Post, designed to take over in case the Global Operations Center (GOC), located at Offutt Air Force Basemarker in Nebraska, is destroyed or incapable of communicating with strategic forces. The term 'looking glass' is used because it "mirrors" the abilities of the GOC to control nuclear forces. Looking Glass was said to be airborne 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with one plane taking off to replace another landing.


Detail of the E-6's wingtip

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