Boeing EC-135 Looking Glass airplane model. , A mark of America's strategic excellence is its preeminent ability to command, control, and communicate with its nuclear forces. An essential element of that ability is the Airborne Command Post, also called "Looking Glass.", which was retired from service on 01 October 1998. Its highly trained ,crew and staff ensured there wass always an aircraft ready to direct bombers and missiles from the air should ground-based command centers become inoperable. Looking Glass guaranteed that U.S. strategic forces would act only in the precise manner dictated by the President.
The now-deactivated Strategic Air Command (SAC) began the mission on February 3, 1961. It took the nickname Looking Glass because the mission mirrored ground-based command, control, and communications. From that date, a Looking Glass aircraft was in the air at all times 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for more than 29 years. On July 24, 1990, Looking Glass ceased continuous airborne alert, but it remained on ground or airborne alert 24 hours a day. Crews accumulated more than 281,000 accident-free flying hours.