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Science & Technology

US Navy's 'Doomsday' plane taken out by a bird

By T.K. Randall
October 19, 2019 · Comment icon 13 comments



Fortunately nobody was injured (aside from the bird). Image Credit: Public Domain
An aircraft designed to survive a nuclear apocalypse recently suffered a rather unfortunate mishap.
Designed to function as a mobile command-and-control center for US forces in the event of a nuclear war, the Boeing E-6 Mercury is equipped with systems that can withstand the electromagnetic pulse of a nuclear warhead exploding directly below it.

Sadly though, it's defensive capabilities against threats of an avian variety leave a lot to be desired.

In what has been officially described as a "Class A mishap", an E-6B Mercury was forced to make an emergency landing on October 2nd after a collision with a bird took out one of its engines.

The incident, which occurred near the Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, caused over $2 million worth of damage.
"The engine has been replaced, and the aircraft has been returned to service," said Tim Boulay, a spokesman for the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division.

While bird strikes are not uncommon, the fact that an aircraft designed to survive a nuclear war can be brought down so easily by one is not exactly encouraging.

This isn't the first 'mishap' to befall the E-6B Mercury in recent months either - back in February a separate aircraft sustained damage after snagging a hangar at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma.

Let's hope there won't actually be any need for a doomsday-proof plane anytime soon.

Source: Live Science | Comments (13)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by AstralHorus 3 years ago
Reminds me of the titanic lol
Comment icon #5 Posted by Timothy 3 years ago
Hiya. They test by cutting operational†engines mid-flight under controlled conditions. 4 turbine RPT jets are quite hardy, and once at cruising altitude, more so. (Volcanic ash or similar is one of the biggest natural threats once cruising at altitude.) Like @L.A.T.1961†said, itís OH&S to return after an unplanned failure or bird strike.† You have a tyre blowout, you donít continue to drive in it because you can. You get it fixed so that your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition†and better equipped to avoid future issues.†
Comment icon #6 Posted by Tatetopa 3 years ago
Good point thanks.† I know most commercial planes can fly with one engine out but you are right they are going to land as quickly as possible. So Timothy, you know more than I do about it. thoughts on viability after a nuclear attack?† Won't there be dust and ash kicked up high in the atmosphere and similar to volcanic ash? Is a flying command and control center hardened enough to survive?
Comment icon #7 Posted by Farmer77 3 years ago
While nothing in an engine is good, the specific melting temperature of volcanic ash is the problem in jet engines IIRC it turns into like a liquid glass.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Susanc241 3 years ago
Not being†technically minded to the degree required here, I have always wondered why jet engines couldn?t be fitted with a mesh screen, perhaps domed shaped and with the rigid mesh having, say, two inch openings. That would stop birds like geese etc being ingested. Or perhaps such a mesh would just pre dice said birds into smaller pieces. What do you experts know?
Comment icon #9 Posted by AllPossible 3 years ago
Iceberg Dead Ahead *side swipes it*
Comment icon #10 Posted by AllPossible 3 years ago
This happened to me before but while I was on my bicycle. I was going probably 11mph but when I hit the pavement it didn't feel good
Comment icon #11 Posted by L.A.T.1961 3 years ago
Jet engines are designed for maximum efficiency, if the engine intake is partially blocked it reduces air throughput and power. So engine design is a compromise between front aperture, aerodynamic†drag, fuel efficiency and power. They are also designed to withstand a bird strike but only up to a point.†† †
Comment icon #12 Posted by Jon the frog 3 years ago
Imagine a bird strike in the future Sabre engine... https://www.reactionengines.co.uk/sabre Other military plane didn't have the chance to come home...one B1b got a wing crushed by a pelican... https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1988-01-21-mn-37481-story.html †
Comment icon #13 Posted by kel_kel 3 years ago
Just attach a long spike sticking straight out of it- instant shish kabob.


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