The US military’s secret plan to turn Boeing 747s into arsenal ships

Dec. 17, 2021

WASHINGTON - During the Cold War, Boeing developed plans to load a 747 with as many as 72 air-launched cruise missiles to serve as a long-range arsenal ship capable of wiping out targets from hundreds of miles away. The design, dubbed the 747 Cruise Missile Carrier Aircraft (CMCA), could have been an extremely cost-effective alternative to America’s current fleet of heavy-payload bombers in a wide variety of mission sets, reports. Continue reading original article.

The Intelligent Aerospace take:

December 17, 2021 - Boeing started with a 747-200C convertible airliner with a nose cargo door that could be opened to remove the seats and leave the interior empty, as well as to bring large weapons payloads on board.

While the B-52 could carry 20 of these cruise missiles, the 747 CMCA could carry a whopping 72 in its fuselage on nine rotary launchers, each loaded with eight AGM-86 cruise missiles. The missiles would be fired one at a time from the side door near the rear of the aircraft, with each rotary launcher sliding back into firing position as needed.

These cruise missiles would leverage a satellite data link to receive target information while the 747 was airborne, or target information could be relayed from a command and control team stationed just behind the cockpit of the aircraft in the area usually reserved for first-class passengers.

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Jamie Whitney, Associate Editor
Intelligent Aerospace

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