and strategic airborne
command post aircraft. Provides survivable, reliable, and endurable
airborne command, control, and communications between the National
Command Authority (NCA) and U.S. strategic and non-strategic forces.
Two squadrons, the "Ironmen" of VQ-3 and the "Shadows" of VQ-4 deploy
more than 20 aircrews from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma to meet
derived the E-6A from its commercial 707 to replace the aging EC-130Q
in the performance of the Navy's TACAMO ("Take Charge and Move Out")
mission. TACAMO links the NCA with naval ballistic missile forces
during times of crisis. The aircraft carries a very low frequency
communication system with dual trailing wire antennas. The Navy
accepted the first E-6A in August 1989.
The E-6B was conceived
as a replacement for the Air Force's Airborne Command Post due to the
age of the EC-135 fleet. The E-6B modified an E-6A by adding
battlestaff positions and other specialized equipment. The E-6B is a
dual-mission aircraft capable of fulfilling either the E-6A mission or
the airborne strategic command post mission and is equipped with an
airborne launch control system (ALCS). The ALCS is capable of launching
U.S. land based intercontinental ballistic missiles. The first E-6B
aircraft was accepted in December 1997 and the E-6B assumed its dual
operational mission in October 1998. The E-6 fleet was completely
modified to the E-6B configuration in 2003.