E-6B Mercury “Doomsday plane” with brand new dome

Feb 25 2014 - 7 Comments

Several aircraft enthusiasts have pointed out that there is a new dome on the E-6B TACAMO

The U.S. Navy operates a fleet of E-6B TACAMO (“TAke Charge And Move Out”).

The “Mercury” aircraft are extremely important as they are used to relay instructions to the fleet ballistic missile submarines in case of nuclear war but also act as back ups of the four E-4Bs NAOC (National Alternate Operations Center), working as ABNCP (Airborne Command Post) platforms (hence “Doomsday Plane“).

On Feb. 14, Military Radio Comms Expert Allan Stern took a photograph of E-6B TACAMO 164407 landing at Patrick Air Force Base and several people noticed that there is a new dome on the aircraft, clearly visible before the tail.

What’s that new dome used for?

Someone on the MilRadioComs group managed by Stern suggested the new dome looks the same size as the WiFi antennas on commercial aircraft.


For sure the E-6B can do many things: it can perform the so-called Looking Glass mission (mirroring the ground-based C3 center at Offutt AFB and relaying orders), talk to submarines trailing a 26,000 ft wire antenna, launch commands to ICBMs (InterContinental Ballistic Missiles) via Airborne Launch Control System, and perform C3 (Command Control Communication) operations to forces operating in theatre.

For this reason it is equipped with systems that make it capable to communicate on virtually every radio frequency band, on commercial satellites and on the Internet, using also a secure VOIP system.

Most probably the new dome houses a new communication system.

Image credit: Al Stern/MilRadioComms


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  • R.Lopaka

    WIFI!! I kidding about WIFI until I read all of the article…..Improved SATCOM?

  • Gothamite

    Are submarine radio wires 26,000 feet or 2,600 feet (wondering if this is a typo or if 5-mi is real)? This is a detail that is most curious.

  • M.Knight

    5mi – ish length could actually be quite ideal for VLF communication with submarines, question is whether it can stay in one piece in flight.

    The new antenna is quite certainly Ka-band satcom dish (similar to those on commercial airplanes). “WiFI antenna” is a bit misleading, it is a satcom antenna that makes the data from the onboard wifi reach internet, but by itself has nothing “wifi” in it.

  • unknown

    You guys make me laugh with all of your conspiracy theories and stuff!!
    <——– A communications officer onboard said aircraft

  • Steve Peacock

    Saw that jet — or something extremely similar — fly into Joint Base McGuire/Dix/Lakehurst (NJ) late this morning. I’ve lived a mile from the base for more than a year and cannot say I remember seeing one quite like that before. Believe me, I see many aircraft flying in and out on a regular basis — sometimes just a few hundred yards, I’m guessing, directly above my house — but they almost always are grayish, never white.

  • Alexander

    I wonder if they do any prank calls?

  • Howdyrowdyusn

    Dude you’d know it’s not a vlf rx if you were ever an ac of any type… Also was never on the E6 a… So not all along. Take it from someone who has spent hours inside this dome. Let’s just say it’s a type of dish.