Russian Il-80 Doomsday plane theft suspect arrested

A man suspected of stealing equipment from the Ilyushin Il-80 airborne command post of the Russian Air Force was arrested, his lawyer told the TASS News Agency on January 19, 2021. The suspect is currently being held in the Taganrog jail awaiting judgment.

The robbery took place in early December 2020. As the Il-80 was undergoing maintenance at the Taganrog Aviation Scientific-Technical Complex, radio equipment, as well as multiple other parts, were stolen. In total, the material stolen was estimated to be worth more than 1 million rubles ($13,570).

At the time, it was suspected that an employee carried out the burglary, as the dismantling of several hundred kilograms of equipment would have required knowledge and time.

The Il-80 is an air command post designed for Russian officials, including the president, to control the armed forces during emergency situations, including the event of a nuclear conflict ‒ hence, the Doomsday plane nickname. It was developed on the basis of the Il-86 airliner. Its communication systems, powered by extra APUs mounted in the engine pods, comprise very-low-frequency radio systems that allow communication with submerged submarines.

While not much is known about its specificities, one could expect the same level of survivability as the E-4B Nightwatch, the United States Air Force counterpart. The Il-80 “Maxdome” entered service shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union. In total, four aircraft are operating.


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