Of all the aircraft we see crossing into civilian life the E4B used by the Secretary of Defense with its all-white paint scheme, and the C32’s (757) used as Air Force Two carrying the Vice-President and First Ladies on official business are some of the most common.
The E6B TACAMO is less visible – the Take Charge And Move Out aircraft based on 707’s are now elderly and dated. They, the E4B and Air Force One are part of the flying command post system used for decades with few changes. The E6B’s have the capacity to order sea and land nuclear weapons strikes in the event the others are taken out.
The Air Force did have 4 E4B’s but two were severely damaged by a weather event in 2017.
The request was made on August 1st to potential manufacturers to supply a new single aircraft solution that would cover all three types. As that almost certainly only gives Boeing an opening there are only three viable propositions.
The 787 would be ideal in the C32 role. With the right version chosen it could easily fulfil the E6B role. However replacing the E4B would depend on what could be pushed into the air frame, and a determination if such a large aircraft would be need to be as big as the outgoing 747 based E4B.
If it can be made to work, it strikes me as obvious that a militarised 787-9 would and could manage all versions and remain viable for decades. Somehow I doubt the US military is capable of managing such a fundamental change to a relatively small aircraft from the E4B, but surely an outgoing 773ER would be buying a dying platform and the new 777-X is too new and unproven – and to expensive per unit.
With up to 16 aircraft to order it should make for an interesting derivative of a civil airliner programme.