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13 Feb, 2019 18:52

Bit to the right! Nuclear war contingency plane damaged in hangar mishap

Bit to the right! Nuclear war contingency plane damaged in hangar mishap

A US Navy aircraft used to maintain strategic communications in the event of a nuclear attack was disabled when its tail clipped the door of the hangar while being towed out last week. Repairs could cost millions.

If you thought denting the fender of the family car while pulling out of the garage was a big deal, this story might put it in perspective. Those responsible for towing the E-6B Mercury aircraft out of its parking spot at the Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma definitely failed to do their homework beforehand, damaging the plane’s tail fin in the process.

Naval Air Forces spokesman Travis Callaghan told Military.com that the incident has been labeled a “Class-A” mishap, meaning that the damage to the aircraft will be at least $2 million.

While it seems at first glance like someone may have taken the recruitment slogan “accelerate your life” a bit too literally when guiding the aircraft out of its housing, the investigation into the accident is underway. There was one person on-board the Mercury during the accident serving as a "brake rider,” but it didn't seem to help matters much.

While the damage doesn’t look too severe from the photos, the vertical stabilizer at the tail of the plane houses some sensitive and high-tech equipment.

The aircraft is part of the Navy's "Take Charge and Move Out" network, a system of communications relays meant to keep the president connected to the US’ nuclear network in the event an enemy attack shuts down normal channels.

What's more, this is not the first incident of its kind this year. Naval Safety Center data reports that there have been five other class-A mishaps since the start of 2019.

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