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

Posted on Saturday, 19 October, 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)

Tags: Doomsday

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by AstralHorus on 20 October, 2019, 3:46
Reminds me of the titanic lol
Comment icon #5 Posted by Timothy on 20 October, 2019, 4:38
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, it’s OH&S to return after an unplanned failure or bird strike.  You have a tyre blowout, you don’t 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 on 20 October, 2019, 7:28
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 on 20 October, 2019, 7:34
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 on 20 October, 2019, 9:04
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 on 20 October, 2019, 10:54
Iceberg Dead Ahead *side swipes it*
Comment icon #10 Posted by AllPossible on 20 October, 2019, 11:31
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 on 20 October, 2019, 18:45
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 on 21 October, 2019, 22:17
Imagine a bird strike in the future Sabre engine... Other military plane didn't have the chance to come B1b got a wing crushed by a pelican...  
Comment icon #13 Posted by kel_kel on 24 October, 2019, 4:09
Just attach a long spike sticking straight out of it- instant shish kabob.

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