President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday morning. Around the time the news broke, planespotters on social media reported two Boeing E-6B Mercury planes flying on either side of the US mainland's coasts.
The Pentagon uses the E-6B as airborne nuclear mission-control, commanding a fleet of the Navy's Ohio class nuclear-powered submarines, armed with nuclear ballistic missiles, in US waters and or around the world.
"There was speculation the airborne command posts were deployed as a warning to any of America's enemies after news broke of Trump's positive test for the novel coronavirus," Fox News said.
Fox News continued, "while military planes generally turn off their transponders in order to avoid being tracked, the two E-6Bs in the air early Friday morning had left theirs on, with the assumption being that their crews want to be seen."
Tim Hogan, an American open-source intelligence analyst, tweeted:
There's an E-6B Mercury off the east coast near DC. 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 SLBMs and ICBMs.
Here's another E6-B that just popped up visible on MLAT on the west coast. IMO Stratcom wants them to be seen.
Hogan said the E6-Bs have the "ability to order the killing of everyone on earth if someone attacks the US with nukes in a first strike. It can talk to our missile subs underwater even if DC is gone."
The Navy has 16 of these planes, and it's not uncommon for two to be flying at the same. However, the timing of Friday's flights is noteworthy.
And maybe NBC's Ben Collins is right ...
This is a remarkable way to get a scoop, about a half-hour before the announcement. https://t.co/YKcYSltLVS— Ben Collins (@oneunderscore__) October 2, 2020