An E-6B Mercury strategic command and control aircraft has been deployed to Iceland. The deployment of this US Navy aircraft is intriguing because no official explanation has been provided by the US European Command.
An E-6B in Iceland
On Feb. 28, U.S. Forces Europe Command made official the arrival of an E-6B Mercury aircraft in Iceland. This is an aircraft with top secret capabilities and is as important as the E-4 Doomsday plane strategic command aircraft or the B-2A Spirit strategic bombers. Indeed, this aircraft is specialized in two strategic missions, directly related to the U.S. nuclear deterrent:
- The Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO) mission. This is its signature mission: to transmit the President's order to nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines patrolling the oceans. To achieve this, the aircraft unrolls two flexible antennas at very low frequency. The first one measures approximately 800 meters and is located behind the tail. The second one is hidden at the back of the plane in a hatch and is not less than 8 km long! After having unrolled these two antennas, the plane will then carry out very tight rotations and at low speed at approximately 20.000 feet of altitude. The goal of the maneuver is to put the 2 antennas upright in order to optimize radio transmissions.
- The role of the USAF strategic airborne command post (ABNCP). Once a presidential order is received, personnel in the aircraft can remotely initiate the firing of the U.S. Air Force's Minuteman III strategic intercontinental missiles. The Mercurys were not developed for this role and had been designed only for TACAMO missions. However, with the retirement of the USAF's EC-135 Looking Glass, the E-6Bs had to add this capability, after the addition of the U.S. Air Force's own communications systems.
Hypothesis: a strategic jab
It is extremely rare to see an aircraft of this importance in Europe. The choice of Iceland makes sense because there are certainly US Navy nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines patrolling the Atlantic as part of the US strategic deterrent. The US Air Force has not commented on the deployment of this aircraft but with hindsight, one hypothesis seems to explain the presence of this aircraft: it is a communication stunt.
- Russia, via its propaganda, does not cease to use all the means at its disposal to terrorize the populations of countries supporting Ukraine in order to destabilize the governments of these countries.
- The nuclear deterrent, following its strategic nature is intended to be both secret but also visible! For the day of March 6, 2023 alone, nearly 7 E-6B Mercury were deployed over the U.S. territory and visible on the sites of live tracking ... not counting the Mercury or Mercury ensuring a permanent alert!
- In fact, not wishing to escalate tensions, the US Navy deployed an E-6B to Iceland as a reminder that the United States also has strategic weapons, including SNLEs patrolling the Atlantic.
So, this is probably a simple reminder to Russia that the United States has the capabilities to respond to a Russian nuclear attack. It is also a way to remind the American public that the United States holds a strategic deterrent.
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