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The U.S. navy’s “doomsday plane,” designed to survive attacks from WMDs, has been downed by a single, lone bird.
The E-6 Mercury aircraft was built to serve as an aerial base during catastrophic global conflict, specifically a nuclear war. However, during a test flight, a single bird was likely sucked into the engine causing major failures and millions of dollars in damages, reports the Navy Times.
According to a United States Navy Fact File, the E-6 Mercury is designed to link with other naval ballistic missile forces and can launch ballistic missiles itself. It was designed to be an unstoppable force, a command-and-control aircraft, and the last resort as part of the Navy’s TACAMO (“Take Charge and Move Out”) mission.
The entire project to build this aircraft came in at a whopping $141.7 million USD.
The Navy has since classified the bird incident as a Class-A mishap, meaning that the engine difficulties caused over $2.9 million in damages.
“[The crew] immediately executed emergency landing procedures per their training and landed safely at NALF Orange Grove,” Lt. Michelle Tucker, a spokesperson for the chief of Naval Air Training, told Military.com.
“The engine has been replaced, and the aircraft has been returned to service,” added Tim Boulay, a spokesman for the Naval Air Warfare Centre Aircraft Division.
No one was injured during the incident, and the Navy still isn’t positive how the bird managed to cause such catastrophic engine failures.