That is kind of ironic, no?
A U.S. Navy “doomsday” aircraft, meant to survive a nuclear attack, recently met its match: a bird.
The bird strike took out one of the plane’s four engines, and the U.S. Navy declared it a “Class A mishap,” meaning the event caused more than $2 million in damages, death or permanent disability.
The event occurred on Oct. 2 at 3:12 p.m. ET, during a so-called touch-and-go maneuver, when the E-6B Mercury aircraft struck an as-yet unidentified bird at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. No injuries were reported, and the plane landed safely on the runway at the air station.
Second Major Problem With Such Doomsday Aircraft This Year
The bird strike marks the second Class-A mishap of this type of doomsday aircraft already this year. In February, an E-6B Mercury snagged a hangar while being moved at the Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.
What’s the E-6B Mercury?
The E-6B Mercury is a Boeing 707 that’s souped-up military style to serve as an airborne command and communications platform for the U.S. Navy in the event of a nuclear war. Its systems are crafted to survive electromagnetic pulses from nuclear bombs detonating below it.
The craft uses low-frequency communication systems that would allow those in charge to communicate with the U.S. Navy’s nuclear missile force on ballistic missile submarines at sea.
This doomsday plane is also equipped with the so-called airborne launch control system, meaning it can launch land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Bird strikes by aircraft are not uncommon. Every year, about 3,000 wildlife-strike incidents are reported for military aircraft and another 2,300-plus for civil craft.
Meanwhile, the engine has been replaced and the doomsday aircraft has been returned to service.