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US Air Force may replace three types of aircraft with a single platform

The U.S. Air Force is looking to replace three aircraft — the E-4B command post, the C-32A executive airlifter and the Navy’s E-6B command post — under the purview of a single program known as NEAT, Defence News wrote. Air Force Materiel Command posted the request for information (RfI) Tuesday for National Airborne Operations Centre (NAOC), Executive Airlift, Airborne Command Post (ABNCP), Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO). According to the RFI, the Pentagon is conducting an analysis of alternatives “that will examine potential synergies in acquiring common platforms that do not sacrifice operational effectiveness or increase the overall cost.” The RFI also says the Pentagon is looking for “innovative industry solutions to accomplish the missions performed by the E-4B, E-6B, and C-32A in a more effective and efficient fashion.” The E-4B National Airborne Operations Centre is based on a Boeing 747 and is used to command U.S. forces worldwide, particularly nuclear forces in the case of an emergency; it has sometimes been referred to as the “Doomsday Plane.” It’s also used to transport the secretary of defence and his staff. The Boeing 757-derived C-32A is often seen transporting the vice president or first lady, and, as a result, has been called “Air Force Two.” The Boeing 707-derived E-6B Mercury, or the Take Charge and Move Out, belongs to the U.S. Navy, and is likely included on the RFI because of its capability. The aircraft can relay orders to both Navy ballistic missile submarines and Air Force intercontinental ballistic missiles across the American west. The E-6B was originally designed to only communicate with submarines, but it inherited the Air Force mission after the service retired aging EC-135s.

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