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Navy ‘Doomsday’ plane built to withstand nuclear attack grounded after striking single bird

E-6B Landing (U.S. Air Force/Released)

The Navy’s “Doomsday Plane,” designed to withstand even a nuclear attack, suffered millions of dollars in damages after striking a single bird as it practiced a landing maneuver earlier this month at a Maryland air station.

The E-6B Mercury was supposed to only touch down momentarily before immediately taking off again from the Patuxent River Naval Air station – but a bird was sucked into one of the plane’s four engines while it attempted the “touch and go” move, according to

Tim Boulay, the communications director for the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, told the Navy Times the incident was a “Class A” mishap, which means there was at least $2 million in damages to the plane. The designation is typically used in instances of aircraft destruction and death.

No one aboard the Navy aircraft was injured, but the plane was temporarily grounded after the Oct. 2 incident.

This marks the second “Class A” mishap for an E-6B Mercury this year – back in February, one of the planes brushed against a hangar as it was being moved from Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. The incident also resulted in millions in damages.

The $141 million Mercury aircraft, a focal point in the Navy’s “Take Charge and Move Out” or TACAMO mission, serves as an airborne command and control post.

The plane damaged in the recent bird strike has since had its damaged engine replaced and is flying once again, Boylay said. The incident is still under investigation.


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