The US Air Force’s (USAF) E-4B advanced airborne command post has successfully returned to operational service following the completion of its maintenance at Boeing’s San Antonio site.

US Air Force E-4B Section chief Joseph Stupic said: "The E-4B fleet is an essential element of our nation’s defence. Boeing’s ability to return this aircraft to service, ahead of schedule, benefits the men and women who serve on them as well as the citizens they protect."

The maintenance services were performed as part of a contract awarded to Boeing to maintain the readiness of the aircraft’s systems, bringing each aircraft in for service every four years.

The USAF launched the E-4 programme in 1974 and since then Boeing has been actively supporting the aircraft fleet.

"The E-4B fleet is an essential element of the US’s defence."

E-4B is built by Boeing along with support from the USAF. Its design is based on the Boeing 747-200 commercial airplane.

The aircraft primarily serves as an airborne command post for control of US Forces in all levels of conflict under the direction of the US President, Secretary of Defence and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

At Boeing’s San Antonio site, the other aircraft that undergo maintenance services include the USAF’s C-17 Globemaster III airlifters and KC-135 aerial refuelling tankers and commercial aircraft.

The aircraft is an enhanced version of the E-4A. It is capable of flying at high altitudes and can be refuelled midflight.

Image: Boeing recently completed maintenance on a US Air Force E-4B advanced airborne command post. Photo: courtesy of Boeing photo.