- The Washington Times - Friday, October 2, 2020

Two “doomsday plane” flights overnight off both U.S. coasts were preplanned and not tied to President Trump’s positive coronavirus test, military officials said Friday as they tamped down speculation that America was sending a warning to its enemies at a time of crisis.

Social media erupted early Friday after images seemed to show that the military had dispatched two Boeing E-6B Mercury planes around the time Mr. Trump revealed his diagnosis on Twitter. The E-6B planes can convey instructions to nuclear-armed submarines, earning the aircraft their ominous nickname and making them a key piece of U.S. defenses in the event of a catastrophe.

U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which oversees America’s nuclear arsenal, confirmed that the flights had taken place but said they were not related to Mr. Trump’s positive COVID-19 test.

“These are preplanned flights and the timing is coincidental,” a STRATCOM spokesperson told The Washington Times.

News of the flights first broke on Twitter just before the president’s early-morning tweet revealing his coronavirus test. Tim Hogan, an open-source intelligence practitioner who tracks such flights, tweeted just after midnight that the aircraft could be seen off both coasts.

“Here’s another E6-B that just popped up visible on MLAT on the west coast. [In my opinion] Stratcom wants them to be seen,” he tweeted.

“There’s an E-6B Mercury off the east coast near DC,” he said on Twitter. “I looked because I would expect them to pop up if he tests positive. It’s a message to the small group of adversaries with” submarine-launched ballistic missiles and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Despite the apparent coincidental timing, the flights still serve as a warning to enemies.

• Ben Wolfgang can be reached at bwolfgang@washingtontimes.com.

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