THE LOOKING GLASS

The Looking Glass aircraft was an EC-135c. This 4-engine jet aircraft was produced by the Boeing Aircraft Company, of Seattle,
Washington. It was based on the prototype airliner built in 1954. The Air Force placed an initial order for 29 aircraft which would be used
as tanker aircraft. With minor variations from the prototype, the first aircraft were delivered in 1957. There were many variations on
this original design. The 135 series probably has more variants than any other aircraft. The EC designations are "Electronic Command Post"
variants. "Looking Glass" was the name given to SAC's airborne command post. Beginning Feb 3, 1961, Looking Glass began continuous
airborne operations. From that day until 24 July 1990, nearly 30 years, one of these airplanes remained on continuous airborne alert over the United States. The airborne command post was filled with a full array of communications systems and computers. Manned by a
highly experienced battle staff, the Looking Glass was capable of assuming direction of the U.S. bomber and missile force, and execute
emergency war orders at the direction of the President. Each mission was directed by a SAC general officer. The battle staff was made up
of specialists in command, control, operations, plans, intelligence, logistics and communications. The EC-135c aircraft normally flew
three eight-hour missions daily, from their home base at Offutt Air Force Base, about eleven miles south of Omaha, Nebraska. Each
aircraft stayed airborne until its replacement was on station and relieved the earlier mission. The continuous airborne presence of
these aircraft demonstrated American resolve to survive a nuclear first stike and maintain unimpeded control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

 

The Looking Glass Targeting Staff (circa 1986)



The Looking Glass aircraft was an EC-135c. This 4-engine jet aircraft was produced by the Boeing Aircraft Company, of Seattle, Washington. It was based on the prototype airliner built in 1954. The Air Force placed an initial order for 29 aircraft which would be used as tanker aircraft. With minor variations from the prototype, the first aircraft were delivered in 1957. There were many variations on this original design. The 135 series probably has more variants than any other aircraft. The EC designations are "Electronic Command Post" variants. "Looking Glass" was the name given to SAC's airborne command post. Beginning Feb 3, 1961, Looking Glass began continuous airborne operations. From that day until 24 July 1990, nearly 30 years, one of these airplanes remained on continuous airborne alert over the United States. The airborne command post was filled with a full array of communications systems and computers. Manned by a highly experienced battle staff, the Looking Glass was capable of assuming direction of the U.S. bomber and missile force, and execute emergency war orders at the direction of the President. Each mission was directed by a SAC general officer. The battle staff was made up of specialists in command, control, operations, plans, intelligence, logistics and communications. The EC-135c aircraft normally flew three eight-hour missions daily, from their home base at Offutt Air Force Base, about eleven miles south of Omaha, Nebraska. Each aircraft stayed airborne until its replacement was on station and relieved the earlier mission. The continuous airborne presence of these aircraft demonstrated American resolve to survive a nuclear first stike and maintain unimpeded control of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

 

The EC-135c

Dimensions: wingspan -130 ft Length - 134 ft Height - 38 ft Max Speed - about 580 MPH The EC-135, while not a tanker, had the full refueling capabilities of the KC-135 and was able to refuel other aircraft as well as take on fuel. A boom operator was always part of the crew. Return to SAC Page Home Last Update: 24 Jan 09