Russia’s airborne command post nicknamed the “Doomsday plane” for its ability to survive nuclear war has been infiltrated and robbed of radio equipment during upgrades, media reported Monday.
The reports said the Ilyushin Il-80 was undergoing maintenance in the southwestern Russian city of Taganrog last Friday when unknown thieves broke open its cargo hatch and stole 39 pieces of radio equipment.
Interfax said an unnamed Russian transport police source confirmed that an inquiry has been opened into a Taganrog-based aircraft manufacturer’s report of the break-in. It added that authorities were considering opening a criminal investigation.
“The Beriev Aircraft Company reported that a cargo hatch breach was discovered during an inspection of one of the aircraft,” the news agency quoted the source as saying.
All equipment was intact at last inspection on Nov. 26, said the Ren-TV broadcaster, which first reported the Il-80 break-in. It added that investigators took fingerprints and shoeprints from inside the aircraft.
Interfax previously reported that the robbed “Doomsday” plane had been undergoing routine maintenance since early 2019.
The Il-80 is one of four secretive “Doomsday planes” in service in Russia, with reports this fall suggesting plans to replace the aging fleet with upgraded Il-96-400M wide-body airliners. The United States also operates four E-4B Nightwatch airborne command posts.
The windowless Il-80 is designed to withstand a nuclear attack and ensure that a Russian president could issue orders to the military onboard.