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Nebraska Republican Wants To Restart Airborne Nuclear Alert Mission

Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE), a retired Air Force officer, wants to re-establish Looking Glass, the airborne nuclear war command post of Cold War fame. Looking Glass maintained continuous airborne alert from 1961 until 1990. Bacon wants to bring that back because he fears a “bolt from the blue” first strike nuclear attack on the U.S. from Russia or China. “He fears our adversaries could decapitate our leadership with a bolt-from-the-blue strike using bombs launched from submarines or new hypersonic aircraft before Looking Glass could even get airborne,” reported the Omaha World Herald.

The Looking Glass nuclear command and control mission currently is carried by the U.S. Navy’s fleet of E-6B aircraft, which are not airborne all the time and which the Navy plans to retire soon and replace with C-130s, the mission of which will be limited to communicating with nuclear ballistic missile submarines.

Thus re-establishing the 24/7 Looking Glass airborne alert mission will be a challenge. During the Cold War, the World Herald notes, it took a fleet of more than 40 EC-135s and thousands of airmen at several airbases to ensure that at least one Looking Glass was airborne at all times.

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