The E-6B Mercury air command post has landed in Iceland to conduct operations in the US European command zone
The main US Navy aircraft in the event of a nuclear war has landed in Iceland, the US European Command (EUCOM) reported Tuesday, shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law Moscow’s suspension of the New START nuclear treaty.
According to a post on the command’s Twitter account, the crew of the E-6B Mercury assigned to Wing One of the US Strategic Command met with the US ambassador to Iceland and other diplomatic and military leaders. According to the statement, the aircraft is conducting operations in EUCOM’s area of responsibility.
The E-6B Mercury aircraft is commonly referred to as a “doomsday plane” because it is designed to serve as an airborne command post in the event of all-out nuclear war, disaster or other large-scale conflict.
According to the Pentagon, the aircraft enables the US command to communicate with both strategic and non-strategic weapons systems, making it possible to launch ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads from the ground and submarines.
The news came just after Moscow sent Washington an official note suspending Russia’s participation in the New START treaty — the last remaining nuclear arms reduction agreement between the US and Russia. The treaty was supposed to limit both nations’ nuclear stockpiles and allow each of them to monitor the enemy’s arsenal to confirm compliance. However, both Moscow and Washington have accused the other of breaching the agreement to allow such inspections.
Putin announced the temporary suspension of the treaty last week, accusing the US of trying “renew the international order” to his suit “selfish interests”, and to demand that Russia abide by treaties “while they do what they want.” The president also pointed to statements by Western leaders that they wanted it “inflict a strategic defeat” on Russia, while openly assisting attempted Ukrainian drone strikes against Russia’s strategic aviation bases.
Before Moscow can comply with the treaty again, Putin said it must happen “a clear idea” of NATO’s nuclear arsenal – including weapons owned by the UK and France, who he says are welcome to join the pact.
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