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Sierra Nevada lands $13B Air Force ‘doomsday plane’ contract

Logo of the United States Department of Defense (US Department of Defense/TNS)

Aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul company Sierra Nevada has won an Air Force contract that will create work at Dayton International Airport and in Beavercreek.

Sierra Nevada Corp., based in Englewood, Colo., was awarded a $13 million contract for the Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC), the Department of Defense recently said.

Sometimes called the “doomday plane,” the center is meant to be a strategic command-and-control military aircraft used in war and in emergency situations.

The current Boeing E-4 planes were built in the 1970s.

This contract provides for the development and production of the SAOC weapon system to include engineering and manufacturing development for the ground systems, production aircraft, and interim contractor support, the Pentagon said.

Work will be performed in Colorado and Nevada, as well as Beavercreek and Dayton at the airport. It’s expected to be completed by July 10, 2036.

Questions about the contract and the work to be done here in the Dayton area were sent to a representative of Sierra Nevada Monday.

Mark Williams, Sierra Nevada senior vice president of strategy, told the Dayton Daily News late last year that the company was bidding on projects that would lead to a major expansion at the Dayton International Airport.

“If we win the big opportunity, that will turn into four of those type hangars (at Dayton International Airport) plus North America’s largest emissions-free paint hangar,” Williams told this newspaper at that time. “But that’s all contingent on us winning the business.”

On X, Sierra Nevada said Friday it is “building the airborne command center of the future.”

“SAOC is a highly specialized aircraft that ensures continued critical command, control and communication during national emergencies for POTUS (president of the United States), SECDEF (secretary of defense) and CJCS (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). We’re honored to support this important mission,” the company tweeted.

This contract was a competitive acquisition, and two offers were received, the DOD said. Fiscal 2024 research, development, test, and evaluation funds in the amount of $59 million are being obligated at time of award.

The Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hanscom Air Force Base is the source of the contract. AFLCMC is based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

The current Boeing E-4 “Nightwatch” is a militarized version of the Boeing 747-200, a four-engine, swept-wing, long-range, high-altitude airplane capable of refueling in flight, according to an Air Force description.

The plane features a command work area, a conference room, briefing room, an operations team work area, communications area and rest area, with room for up to 111 people. It is designed to weather the effects of an electromagnetic pulse and boasts advanced electrical systems and communication equipment.


(c) 2024 the Dayton Daily News

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