Scoop: Russia Working on New Doomsday Plane
11:13 GMT 26.07.2021 (Updated: 11:15 GMT 26.07.2021)
© Photo : Wikipedia/Kirill NaumenkoIlyushin Il-80
© Photo : Wikipedia/Kirill Naumenko
Russia is one of only two nations in the world to possess a ‘Doomsday’ plane – an aircraft designed to serve as an airborne command post for leaders and military top brass, and be able to survive a nuclear war.
Aircraft manufacturers in Voronezh, Russia have begun the creation of a new type of command and control aircraft to be used in the event of a nuclear war, a military industry source has told Sputnik.
“The Russian Aerospace Forces will receive two airborne command posts based on the Il-96-400M. One is being built,” the source said. A third aircraft may be ordered in the future, according to the source.
The new aircraft class is called the Zveno-3C, and the planes are expected to eventually replace the Ilyushin Il-80 airborne command and control aircraft, informally dubbed ‘Doomsday’ planes, which currently serve in the Russian air forces. Those planes were developed in the late 1980s on the basis of the Ilyushin Il-86 airliner and introduced into service with the military in 1992. Three of the four Il-80s built remain in service, and they are based at the Chkalovsky Airbase outside Moscow.
As is necessary for planes of its class, project Zveno-3C planes will be able to refuel in the air with the help of tanker aircraft, and will feature advanced radio systems enabling them to deliver orders to strategic aviation, road-mobile and silo-based nuclear forces and nuclear submarines in a radius of up to 6,000 km, in the event that conventional communications systems are knocked out. It’s also assumed that like their predecessors, the planes will have onboard air defences to enable them to hold their own against air and missile attack.
© Photo : Yevgeny Volkov / Russianplanes.netFour Il-80s and a pair of Il-76SKs at Chaklovsky airfield, 2011.
Four Il-80s and a pair of Il-76SKs at Chaklovsky airfield, 2011.
© Photo : Yevgeny Volkov / Russianplanes.net
The Ilyushin Il-96-400M is a four-engine wide-body airliner being built by the Voronezh Aircraft Production Association, a subsidiary of United Aircraft Corporation. The long-haul jetliner is an upgraded version of the Il-96, the last long-range civilian airliner created in the USSR. Deliveries of the original Il-96 began in 1993, but were limited due to the economic crisis that plagued Russia throughout the 1990s. In the 2000s and much of the 2010s, the country’s commercial aircraft industry remained in a state of decline, prompting Russian airlines to buy up Boeing and Airbus jetliners. However, a modification of the Il-96 known as the Il-96-300 was ordered to serve in Russia’s presidential aircraft fleet, as well as Cuba’s Cubana airline.
The Il-96-400M was envisioned as a prospective long-haul jet airliner to be sold commercially to help the country restore its aircraft manufacturing sector and gradually reduce the market share of Boeing and Airbus. However, aircraft industry sources revealed to Russian business media in April that plans to mass produce the Il-96-400M had been scrapped amid a supposed lack of interest from airlines and the decline in air travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. The first prototype of the civilian Il-96-400M is expected to be completed before the end of the year, and flight testing is set to start after that.
© Sputnik / Александр ПоляковIlyushin Il-96-400 at an airshow in Russia. File photo.
Ilyushin Il-96-400 at an airshow in Russia. File photo.
© Sputnik / Александр Поляков/
The United States is the only other country with Doomsday plane capability. The country has four Boeing E-4B Nightwatch airborne command posts built on the basis of the Boeing 747. Like their Russian counterparts, these aircraft are eventually expected to receive a next-generation replacement.
Russia’s Il-80 Doomsday plane made the news last year after it was reported that thieves had broken into a closed airfield, opened a cargo hatch and stole radio equipment from one of the planes in Russia’s Rostov region. The theft was reported to have taken place while the plane was undergoing maintenance.