Author Topic: America’s plan to build 747 arsenal ships packed with cruise missiles  (Read 1124 times)

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America’s plan to build 747 arsenal ships packed with cruise missiles

Alex Hollings | September 19, 2021

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.

Ultimately, the 747 CMCA never made it off the drawing board, with the Reagan administration pulling the B-1 program out of mothballs and the B-2 entering service shortly thereafter–but it may be time the United States revisited the idea of leveraging these or similarly capable commercial airframes for more than just ferrying cargo and passengers.
Why pack a 747 with cruise missiles?

On June 30, 1977, President Jimmy Carter announced that he was canceling development on America’s B-1 bomber program, citing the program’s cost overruns and advancing ballistic missile technology for the decision. The bomber would eventually find new life under the Reagan administration, eventually resulting in the B-1B Lancer that remains in service today. Northrop Grumman’s B-2 Spirit, sometimes referred to as America’s “stealth bomber,” also entered service in the ’80s, placing America’s strategic bombing capabilities right back at the top of the global military heap.