Let’s have a look at the Russian Air Force Il-80 Maxdome, Putin’s “doomsday plane”

The next generation Il-80 airborne command post is about to enter active service with the Russian Air Force.

The Russian Air Force will soon operate an upgraded Il-80 Maxdome airborne command post.

In fact, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, a “new” version of the Russian “doomsday plane” has recently successfully completed the testing campaign and is ready to enter into active service by the end of the year.

The aircraft is one of the four Il-80 aircraft, heavily modified Il-86 airliners, used as airborne command center in a role similar to that of the U.S. Boeing E-4B since the mid-1980s.

In service with the 8th Special Purpose Aviation Division, at Chkalovsky Airport, near Moscow, the Il-80 is meant to keep the top Russian officials, including the President, alive and safe in case of nuclear war: for this reason, the Maxdome does not feature any external windows (other than the cockpit windshield) and it is equipped with domes, bulges and antennas meant to block EMP, RF pulse, and to shield against nuclear blasts while ensuring the ability to communicate with other assets including ballistic missile submarines when the ground infrastructure is heavily damaged or destroyed.

The extent of the modifications is unclear.

“The new generation airborne command post has improved survivability, functionality and reliability, and the  electronics on board have reduced mass-dimensional characteristics and power consumption, its producer claims,” according to RT.

As said, the American counterpart of the Il-80, is the U.S. Air Force E-4B, a modified B747-200 that serves as National Airborne Operations Center. Four such aircraft (based at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska) are responsible to keep the U.S. Secretary of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other top personalities alive in the event of Armageddon (a nuclear war, a terrorist attack, a zombie revolution or an alien invasion).

The E-4B is an airborne command, control and communications center to direct nuclear (and conventional) forces, by receiving, verifying and relaying EAM (Emergency Action Messages). Its backup is the U.S. Navy E-6B TACAMO (TAke Charge And Move Out): the E-6 “Mercury” relay instructions to the fleet ballistic missile submarines in case of nuclear war but can also act as ABNCP (Airborne Command Post) platforms as E-4B back-ups.

Image credit: Kirill Naumenko via Wikimedia Commons


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.