‘Doomsday planes’ in US skies after Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis ‘a warning to enemies’

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However, authorities have insisted the timing was entirely coincidental. Mr Trump was admitted to hospital yesterday less than 24 hours after revealing he and First Lady Melania had contracted the illness. Boeing E-6B Mercury planes were spotted over the East Coast close to the capital, Washington DC, and the West Coast above Oregon yesterday morning, when Mr Trump confirmed the news via social media.

Plane spotter Tim Hogan 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.”

Cyber security analyst Travis Allen posted: “This would be ‘routine’ anytime a nuclear power may appear weak.

“It doesn’t mean Armageddon is here it’s just a show of strength.”

William F Youhouse added: “Last night after he tweeted he was ill. Two E6b naval command and control aircraft took off. One on each coast.

“They are the command and control for the US nuclear ballistic fleet.

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“I imagine it is protocol to allow the enemies of this country to think very hard.”

Another Twitter user said: “The fact that the USA deployed Mercury E-6B’s should be worrying to many of us, and a warning to rogue nations that maybe they want to hang fire.”

The US has a fleet of 16 Mercuries based at Oklahoma’s Tinker Air Force Base and operated by Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 3.

They are a key component of Airborne Command Post, which communicates with US nuclear forces in the event that the nation’s ground-based command centres are attacked.

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Specifically, they allow the President to liaise with US submarines, bombers, and missile silos in the event of a nuclear war.

In a statement issued by US Strategic Command, spokeswoman Karen Singer dismissed suggestions of a link between the launches and the President’s illness.

She said: “I can confirm these flights were pre-planned missions.

“Any timing to the President’s announcement is purely coincidental.”

Fox News quoted an unnamed defence official as saying there was “no change to the posture of the US military” while insisting: “The president remains the commander-in-chief.”

Mr Trump was flown by helicopter to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland yesterday, where he will spend the next few days, said the White House.

Earlier today he tweeted: “Going welI, I think! Thank you to all. LOVE!!!”

Hours earlier he posted a brief video message on Twitter in which he thanked well-wishers and said he “thought” he was doing very well.

Mr Trump, who is 74 and BMI – which is believed to be over 30, putting him in the obese category – elevate his risk of becoming seriously ill.

The White House has confirmed he has been having some trouble breathing.

Mrs Trump by contrast is suffering only mild symptoms.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalised by COVID-19 in April and spent three nights in intensive care.

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