After the Carter Administration's cancellation of the B-1A program due to fiscal concerns, the rise of air-launched cruise missiles and the possibility of developing a stealth bomber, Boeing put forward a low-risk, relatively cheap, cruise missile delivery vehicle alternative based on themighty 747. It was called the Cruise Missile Carrier Aircraft, or CMCA for short. The idea was relatively simple, turn the premier long-range commercial hauler into an arsenal ship capable of carrying between 50 and 100 air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs). At the time the AGM-86 air-launched cruise missile was all the rage (it is still in service today) so the 747 CMCA concept was built with the 21ft winged missile in mind. The configuration was fairly straight forward, the design was based on the 747-200C, a nose-loading cargo derivative of the ubiquitous airliner, with nine rotary launchers mounted on tracks inside of the stripped-out cabin. Each rotary launcher would hold eight missiles, and they could be slid back into a launching position at the rear right side of the aircraft via the help of an overhead handling system. A bay door on the right side of the 747's tail cone would open and an ejector system would punch the missiles out into the air stream and send them on their way either one at a time, or in rapid succession. In this configuration, a single 747 CMCA could launch 72 AGM-86 ALCMs on a single sortie, which is absolutely impressive considering a B-52 can carry up to 20. Satellite data links and other forms of communication could have allowed for the CMCA's missiles to be re-programmed from external sources while the aircraft was already in flight. The "hump" area behind the cockpit that is usually reserved for first class passengers on airline versions of the 747 had enough square footage that limited command and control and network relay functions could be added to the basic CMCA concept. Seeing as the range of the AGM-86 is between 500 and 1500 miles, depending on version of missile and the weight and type of the warhead it carries, which can be up to 3,000lbs, the 747 CMCA could launch massive salvos of independently targeted cruise missiles at enemy targets while staying safely outside of the enemy's airspace and zone of control. Most importantly, it could do this in an economic fashion after traveling thousands of miles from its home base, and even the 747's already massive range could be extended with aerial refueling. Boeing saw the 747 design as has having a decent chance of success with the USAF for the CMCA mission seeing as the service was already purchasing the E-4 "Nightwatch" airborne command posts, which were based on the same airframe. In the end, the 747 CMCA was passed over, with the B-1 being revived by the Reagan Administration as well as the B-2 being procured semi-clandestinely under what would become the Advanced Tactical Bomber program. The B-52 fleet also received some capability upgrades as well. The iconic bomber was already considered geriatric some 35 years ago, yet it would remain as America's primary air-launched cruise missile delivery platform for another three decades, with no end in sight. In retrospect it would seem that choosing not to develop the CMCA was a poor move. Such an aircraft, especially if it were eventually upgraded to carry smaller GPS guided munitions, would have been an extremely effective weapon system to have orbiting high over Afghanistan and Iraq. When it comes to the loitering weapons platform mission, the CMCAs could have operated at much lower cost than the B-1 or B-52 force during both those wars. Additionally, the arsenal ship concept was really ahead of its time when the CMCA was put forward, as smart munitions, especially those guided by GPS, were some twenty years from being fielded operationally. Additional proof as to the 747 CMCA's great potential can be seen in a similar and highly successful cruise missile carrying arsenal ship concept of recent times, albeit one that is at home far beneath the ocean's surface instead of high up above it. This being the conversion of America's oldest Ohio Class nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) into nuclear guided missile submarines (SSGNs). Turning the world's most deadly weapon of all time into BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missileslinging arsenal ship was a fairly unconventional move for the US Navy, but one that has proved to be a huge success. Instead of simply retiring the first four Ohio Class ballistic missile subs, which were capable of firing 24 Trident SLBMs, the Navy reworked them to carry 154 Tomahawks and as a many as 66 US Navy SEALs and their equipment. What was once the ultimate in Cold War era mutually assured destruction (MAD) capability became a conventional weapon of modern times. The SSGNs offering a "war in a box" to be deployed undetected off of any coastline for over a month at a time, all the while being able to strike strategic targets close to 1,000 miles inland, not to mention making an enemy's shores and ports vulnerable to Frogmen raids and surveillance missions. The SSGN concept was proven highly effective in Libya during Operation Odyssey Dawn, which would eventually lead to Qaddafi's fall from power. During the multi-national effort the USS Florida launched a whopping 93 Tomahawks, 45% of the total for the campaign, and had a success rate of 90 out of 93 targets totally destroyed. Like the Ohio Class SSGN that has just found its stride in the modern era of smaller wars, countries with questionable intentions, and the 'pivot' towards the Pacific Theater, the 747 CMCA could offer an incredibly relevant long-range strike capability today. Being able to load a 747 with close to 100 air launched cruise missiles, that can be fired off 1,000 miles off the coast of an enemy country, namely China, would offer a very survivable and credible threat without the extremely high costs of developing or even operating a purpose-built military bomber. Nor could any military bomber from the past or on the design table for the future hold nearly as many ALCMs as Boeing 747 CMCA concept.