According to the Nebraska-based Omaha World-Herald newspaper, a June 16th EF1 tornado that struck Offutt Air Force Base damaged 10 aircraft, including two E4-B Nightwatch airplanes. The E-4B is popularly known as the “Doomsday” plane because of its role in a potential nuclear war. The Air Force has four in its inventory, such that half of its fleet was disabled in the storm.
The twister also damaged eight RC-125 surveillance aircraft belonging to the 55th Wing’s fleet of 29 such aircraft. The RC-125s fly surveillance missions over the Middle East, western Pacific, and Far East. They act essentially as airborne listening posts. A 55th Wing spokesman told the World-Herald that seven of the RC-125s sustained only minor damage, and that six of those were already repaired and returned to ready status.
The tornado hit the base — also home to the U.S. Strategic Command — just after 8 p.m. on June 16th and also struck a base housing area and an Air Force golf course before jumping the highway and striking the aircraft south of the runway. The National Weather Service stated that winds reached up to 110 mph. Offutt AFB is located in the vicinity of Omaha, Nebraska.
The damaged planes were located in hangars when the tornado struck, though their tails were exposed to the high winds, according to the news report. While reporters could see some of the damage done to the tails, the Air Force did not allow any photographs to be taken of the damaged planes.