A pair of US military planes capable of launching a nuclear attack took to the skies just before Donald Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis was announced.
Two E-6B Mercury planes, sometimes known as ‘doomsday planes,’ took off minutes before Friday morning’s announcement one from the east coast, the other from the west coast.
Tim Hogan, an American open-source intelligence practitioner tweeted about tracking the planes on radio transponders, and took their mission as a sign that Trump had coronavirus.
The president and First Lady Melania had gone into isolation earlier on Thursday evening after learning their aide Hope Hicks had the virus.
‘I would expect them to pop up if he tests positive,’ Hogan said.
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He said that most planes switch their transponders off to avoid being tracked, but in this case, the military planes want to be seen.
The planes’ very public departure is widely-interpreted as a signal to other countries that the US chain of command – right up to those who can launch nuclear weapons – remains alert and primed, despite the president’s illness.
With Trump now focused on his health, adversaries may see holes pop up in America’s national security. There will be less protection of election interference in Taiwan – with China long trying to stake its claim on the Asian island.
Ukraine is also potentially more vulnerable to an incursion from Russia, whose government has sought to regain control of the Eastern European nation.
North Korea and Iran may discuss more missile testing, while the Taliban may be watching for weaknesses as well.
The E-6B Mercury plane carries special communication systems and crews for submarines carrying nuclear-ballistic missiles.
A US Strategic Command spokesman told Fox News that the flights were ‘pre-planned’ and that the timing was ‘purely coincidental.’
While Trump has said in a tweet that he has tested positive for coronavirus, and he insisted that he currently feels well.
‘Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19,’ the tweet said. ‘We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!’
The president has consistently downplayed the virus. Most recently in the presidential debate on Tuesday, he made fun of his opponent Joe Biden over wearing masks.
‘I don’t wear masks like him,’ Trump said. ‘Every time you see him, he’s got a mask.’
There are more than seven million cases and over 207,000 Americans dead from coronavirus.
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