The Boeing EC-135 Looking Glass aircraft is a conversion of the basic C-135/KC-135 family of aircraft for the strategic command and control mission. This airborne command post function provides a survivable means of command and control in the event that SAC underground command center, alternate command posts, or ground-based communications are lost. It also provides an alternate method to launch the Minuteman/Peacekeeper missiles if ground launch control centers are destroyed.
Each airborne command post aircraft carries a battle staff and variety of communications equipment. The SAC Airborne Command Post was on airborne alert around the clock from February 3, 1961 until July 24, 1990.
When airborne, the battle staff, headed by a SAC general officer, monitors several communications systems and maintains contact with the SAC underground and alternate command posts, the national Military Command Centers, and the SAC alert forces.