Two U.S. flying command centers were in the air during the wee hours of the night. One of the E-6Bs curved off the east coast off Washington and the other off the west coast off Oregon. They were discovered very soon after the president Donald Trump had reported his coronavirus infection at one morning local time.

The planes are given to U.S. missile submarines around the world and can also be ordered to fire intercontinental missiles on land.

In practice, their job is to ensure that nuclear missiles can be launched in any situation. “Doomsday planes” are part of the U.S.’s overall contingency plan to use its nuclear weapons in the event that land-based command centers are either destroyed or paralyzed, and the conservative magazine National Interest recently called them “the Pentagon’s deadliest military planes”.

The story continues after the picture.

According to Fox News, the U.S. Navy, which uses E-6Bs, has a total of 16 units in its fleet. Usually one of them is in the air all the time, and it is not uncommon for two planes to fly at the same time.

According to Fox News, it is unusual instead that the transponders of the machines, i.e. the devices that automatically send their location, were on. Usually military machines do not use their transponders. Indeed, the immediate assumption on social media was that this was an appropriate warning to US opponents: it is not worth trying anything, even though the state of our president has deteriorated.

Admittedly, some aviation forums in the network have argued that E-6Bs typically fly with transponders on.

The observation of the machines was made public by a well-known hobby intelligence practitioner Tim Hogan.

He tweeted that he had gone to look for planes in open radar services because he expected them to appear on the radar if Trump got a coronavirus infection.

Fox News has asked the Pentagon about the issue, but has not received a response.