Tag Archives: Tu-214SR

Online Flight Tracking Provides Interesting Details About U.S. Spyplane and Russian Doomsday Aircraft Operating Over The Black Sea

Flight tracking websites expose a sort of “close encounter” between a U.S. Air Force RC-135 and some Russian Tu-214 special mission aircraft over the Black Sea.

The Tupolev Tu-214SR is a Special Mission Aircraft of the Russian Air Force. Actually, little details about this special plane are known: the “SR” is belived to be a communication relay aircraft, often accompanying Putin’s presidential aircraft on its travels. In other words, it is the Russian “doomsday” plane, with an airborne command and control role similar to that of the U.S. E-4B.

In spite of its role, as already reported years ago, this aircraft can be tracked online by means of the usual public domain “tools” i.e. flight tracking websites that use the famous ADS-B/Mode-S transponders and, when the aircraft is not broadcasting its GPS coordinates, or via Multilateration (MLAT) a technique that use Time Difference of Arrival (TDOA) to measure the difference in time to receive the signal from four different receivers thus geolocating the target that is not transmitting position data.

Tu-214SR (Image credit: Toshi Aoki – JP Spotters/Wiki)

Interestingly, a Tu-214SR, registration RA-64527, callsign RSD049, from Sochi International Airport, Russia, has been operating in the Black Sea since Aug. 1. “I first saw it on Aug. 1 at 21:24hrs UK time, same a/c was still on station at the same location on Aug 2, at 07:10hrs (it spent around 11hrs on that location), and it was on station again on Aug. 3”, Twitter user @Andy007_SR_A explained in a message to us.

What makes the report particularly interesting is the fact that the aircraft did not remain alone during the last mission, when it basically circled over the Kerch peninsula. In fact, on Aug. 3, the Russian “doomsday” plane was somehow “reached” by a U.S. Air Force RC-135V 64-14848 launched from Souda Bay Air Base, Crete, that flew off Crimea then headed towards Novorossiysk.

The flight path of the Rivet Joint brought the spyplane south of the Tu-214SR’s orbit. Then the RC-135 turned southeast. Interestingly, at this point another Russian special mission aircraft could be tracked online: a Tu-214SUS, registration RA-64524, callsign RSD117. The latter, airborne from Sochi, is believed to be an Airborne Communication Center, “equipped with a communication and special technical means to communicate anywhere in the world en-route and designed to carry the head of state, as well as government delegations.”

 

Although the activity of the Tu-214SUS could be completly unrelated to the Tu-214SR (as the operations in the same area for three consecutive days might suggest) it is also possible that the SR was instead supporting the Tu-214SUS, acting as a flying radio relay system between the Presidential/Government plane, ground-based receivers and satellites, as shown in the image below (taken from a ria.ru infographic on the Tu-214SR published by Sputnik news outlet):

Tu-214SR onboard relay system. (Source: ria.ru)

After reaching the west of Sochi the RC-135 turned back, following more or less the very same route for its return to Souda Bay. Was it dispatched to the Black Sea to spy on the two Tu-214s ? Most probably yes, even though we can’t be 100 percent sure considered that the Rivet Joint aircraft regularly operate in the area. Still, the fact the U.S. spyplane was there by accident seems to be hard to believe…

Whatever the reason for the concurrent presence of one American spyplane and two Russian special mission aircraft more or less in the same area of the Black Sea, once again, public domain flight tracking websites provided a privileged look at some sort of “interaction” between an RC-135V, a Tu-214SR and a Tu-214SUS. Something similar to what has happened since the Cold War but can be rarely observed using a web browser from home.

The quite rare Tupolev Tu-214SUS (Image credit: Aktug Ates/Wiki)

A Russian “doomsday plane” is circling over Crimea right now

Just in case someone had doubts about air superiority over Crimea.

The Tupolev Tu-214SR is a Russian Special Mission Aircraft believed to act as a communication relay aircraft.

This kind of aircraft is often dispatched by the Russian Air Force to accompany Putin’s presidential aircraft on its travels and for this reason it is considered the Russian version of the U.S. E-4B, a so-called “doomsday” plane, with an airborne command and control role.

This aircraft was spotted over Sochi during the Winter Games and it is currently operating at FL270 (27,000 feet) over Crimea, quietly broadcasting its position by means of ADS-B transponder.

The Tu-214SR using callsing RSD48 has circled directly over Simferopol international airport and is currently heading towards Sochi airport, its departure airfield.

Image credit: FR24.com screenshot

 

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There’s a Russian Air Force “doomsday plane” circling over Sochi

A Tu-214SR circling from a few hours over Sochi for the opening ceremony.

The Tupolev Tu-214SR is a Special Mission Aircraft of the Russian Air Force. Although few details about this special plane are known, the “SR” is belived to be a communication relay aircraft, often accompanying Putin’s presidential aircraft on its travels.

In other words, it is the Russian “doomsday” plane, with an airborne command and control role similar to that of the U.S. E-4B.

Another variant of the same aircraft, dubbed Tu-214R is modified for ELINT (Electronic Intelligence)/ SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) mission.

The aircraft can be tracked on Flightradar24.com and Planefinder.net circling near Sochi (not far from the two U.S. warships in the Black Sea).

Top image screenshot from FR24.com

 

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