The Boeing E-6 Mercury is a command post and communications relay aircraft manufactured by Boeing for the US Navy
Collins Aerospace has successfully completed modernizing the U.S. Navy’s E-6B Block I aircraft fleet, part of the service’s Airborne Command Post and Take Charge and Move Out (ABNCP/TACAMO) Weapon System.
The upgraded E-6B Block I aircraft features a new command and control battlestaff, communications central control, multi-enclave voice/data/video distribution system, and an Internet Protocol Bandwidth Expansion (IPBE) digital backbone. Collins Aerospace acted as the Mission System Integrator (MSI), designing, developing, producing, installing, and qualifying the recapitalization of the mission system.
“The Block I contract is an example and testament to Collins Aerospace’s ability to deliver comprehensive, integrated and durable solutions to the Navy and E-6B community,” said Heather Robertson, vice president and general manager, Integrated Solutions, Mission Systems, Collins Aerospace. “As a result of this upgrade, crews have a modern, multi-enclave mission system that provides a full picture of their operating environment.”
The work was completed at Will Rogers Airport where the company’s co-located modification facility completed the 8-year full-rate Production (FRP) effort.
Boeing E-6 Mercury (formerly E-6 Hermes) is an airborne command post and communications relay aircraft based on the commercial Boeing 707 platform operated by the U.S. Navy.
The E-6B is a dual-mission aircraft capable of fulfilling either the TACAMO (“Take Charge and Move Out”) mission or the airborne strategic command post mission and is also equipped with an Airborne Launch Control System (ALCS).
As part of the ABNCP (Airborne Command Post) “Looking Glass” mission, the E-6B acts as an airborne command post and communications relay and provides survivable, reliable, and endurable airborne command, control, and communications between the National Command Authority (NCA) and U.S. strategic and non-strategic forces.
For the TACAMO (Take Charge and Move Out) mission, the E-6B provides a survivable communications link with strategic submarine forces using a Very Low Frequency (VLF) communication system with dual trailing wire antennas.
The ALCS is capable of launching U.S. land-based nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Boeing derived the original E-6A to replace the aging EC-130Q in the performance of the U.S. Navy’s TACAMO mission. This platform was later modified to the E-6B standard for U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)’s Airborne Command Post mission due to the age of the Air Force EC-135 Looking Glass fleet. The E-6B modified an E-6A by adding battlestaff positions and other specialized equipment.
The U.S. Navy accepted the first E-6A in August 1989. 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.
The E-6 fleet is based at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and operated by Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 3 (VQ-3) “Ironmen”, and VQ-4 “Shadows”.