Collins Aerospace, Rolls-Royce Join US Air Force ‘Doomsday’ Aircraft Program

RTX segment Collins Aerospace and Rolls-Royce have announced partnerships with the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) to support the US Air Force’s “Doomsday” aircraft development.

The project is part of the Pentagon’s Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC) program, an effort to replace America’s nuclear-resistant E-4B Nightwatch fleet that has been in service since the 1970s.

For Collins’ role, the firm will design, manufacture, and supply multiple solutions necessary for the completion of the SAOC aircraft.

“We’re bringing together systems from across RTX to help the team deliver an advanced, survivable airborne operations center to the US Air Force,” Collins Aerospace VP Conn Doherty stated

“This mission is especially urgent and our decades of experience designing for contested environments is critical to its success.”

E-4B Nightwatch
A KC-46 Pegasus and an E-4B Nightwatch in an aerial refueling position. Photo: Christian Turner/US Air Force

Meanwhile, The Times reported that Rolls-Royce is expected to manage the SAOC engines due to its expertise in supporting propulsion systems for the US military.

Rolls-Royce did not mention the specifics of its agreement with SNC.

“For decades, Rolls-Royce has powered military operations around the world with reliable, cutting-edge technologies – safely transporting service members on their missions,” Rolls-Royce North America CEO Adam Riddle said in a press release.

“Now, we are proud to pair our proven pedigree with the collective expertise of SNC and the rest of the SAOC team to ensure our military leaders have the platform to protect our national security when it matters most.”

US Air Force’s SAOC Program

SNC signed the $13-billion prime contract to deliver the SAOC platform for the US Air Force in April.

One month later, Reuters detailed that the Sparks-based company procured five decommissioned Boeing 7478s from South Korea for $674 million, all of which are speculated to be modified into America’s new Doomsday planes.

The US Air Force is scheduled to receive the first SAOC aircraft in 2032 and the final one in 2036.

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