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Way Downstream … (Oct. 24-30, 2019)

Navy ‘Doomsday Machine’ meets its match: A bird

       The Navy’s E6B Mercury assigned to the Naval Air Station Patuxent River is the aircraft that would serve as a communications hub for ballistic missile submarines in the event of a nuclear attack.

         It is 42 feet tall, has a wingspan of 148 feet and a range of 6,600 miles. Built by Boeing to be the airborne command post for U.S. Strategic Forces, it cost $142 million.

         A Maryland bird apparently hadn’t read the specs.

         In what the Navy is describing as a “Class A” mishap, the doomsday plane was temporarily grounded after striking a bird earlier this month during a landing, the Navy Times reports.

         A bird of a species the Navy didn’t immediately identify was sucked into one of its engines.

         The CFM-56-2A high bypass turbo­fan engine apparently wasn’t made to survive a bird, given that it needed to be replaced.

         The plane is back in business — and we continue to hope that it never gets pressed into duty.