Two airborne command aircraft of the Russian Army, also known as “Doomsday” aircraft, to command troops in a nuclear war, with the designation Il-96VKP are being built, based on on the frame of the Il-96-400M passenger aircraft.
The Russian Aerospace Forces will receive two Il-96VKP airborne command aircraft. One is in production.” The project of airborne command aircraft is under construction, called “Link-3C”; from these Il-96VKP aircraft , the General Staff of the Russian Army will be able to give orders to strategic air forces and land missiles. The Il-96VKP will replace the existing Il-80 aircraft.
Two Il-96VKP Airborne Command (VKP) aircraft, built on the basis of the Il-96-400M, at the Voronezh Aircraft Production Company (VASO). In the future, an order for a third aircraft is quite possible. the Il-96VKP Airborne Command will replace the old Il-80 Command. Due to the use of the new Il-96-400M airframe, the Il-96VKP command posts will have better technical characteristics, longer range and be able to carry out aerial refueling.
In terms of functionality, the new VKP will generally be no different from its predecessor. Its mission will be to evacuate the country’s top military and political leaders and ensure their leadership and command operations in a crisis situation and in an all-out war; including nuclear missile attacks. On-board radio-technical complexes will ensure the provision of official data exchange and military command and control; including real-time strategic nuclear force.
Regarding the structure, functions and characteristics of the Zveno and Zveno-2 complexes used on Il-80 aircraft (partially disclosed), classified as special equipment with national security ; due to their special role and significance for national defense.
The same applies to the Zveno-3C project; the Zveno/ Il-80 projects install various means of communication, control and data processing, as well as various types of antennas outside the aircraft. In addition, the passenger compartments on the plane, used to accommodate the crew, technicians and high-ranking officials, as well as machinery.
Obviously, the Il-96VKP will not be fundamentally different from the previous VKP, it will be equipped with the latest digital devices with high performance and wide capabilities, to control all branches of the Russian Army. . In addition, the external antennas, still used, give the aircraft a distinctive shape.
IL-96-400M aircraft as a framework to deploy the Zvena-3S system. This is a long and wide bodied aircraft; is the latest upgraded version in the IL-96 family. Due to a number of improvements, the specifications have been increased to suit the requirements of modern aviation. Production of the Il-96-400M began in 2018 at VASO.
The IL-96-400M version differs from the IL-96-300 in the elongated fuselage, with a larger take-off mass, which increases payload. In addition, modern avionics were used, to reduce the workload for the pilots. Therefore, the crew of Il-96-400M and Il-96VKP was reduced to 2 people. The aircraft is also equipped with a new PS-90A1 engine with improved efficiency.
To turn the Il-96-400M into the Il-96VKP, the base aircraft had to undergo certain modifications. Presumably, during the design process, the fuselage was reinforced with the fuselage, and some systems had to be redesigned, such as generators that had to increase capacity, to power the electronics on board. planes; In addition, VKP aircraft need an in-air refueling system.
The Il-96-400M fuselage has higher characteristics, which can provide VKP with new capabilities. Consequently, the tonnage of later modifications of the Il-96 reached 58 tons, compared with 42 tons of the older Il-86.
Operation range of Il-96 with maximum take-off weight exceeds 8-8.5 thousand km; for Il-86, this parameter is less than 4 thousand km. The availability of aerial refueling vehicles, will further increase range and time in the air.
According to publicly available data, Russia’s strategic VKP number is not very large, currently only 4 Il-80s. One or two of these VKPs have been modernized with the installation of a modern complex “Link-2”. The rest retains the equipment of the previous version, but does not exclude being modernized.
Of the four existing Il-80s, only three are ready for service and use; while the fourth one is undergoing repairs from 2020. One notable event is that while at the airport, this Il-80 was broken into and stolen a piece of secret equipment. The fate of this aircraft has not been revealed, it is likely to be modernized.
Ministry of Defense has ordered 2 Il-96VKP; Construction of the first has begun and assembly of the second will begin in the near future. Also possible orders for the third VKP. The completion date of construction and flight testing is not specified, but it is clear that this work will take several years. The first Il-96VKP will be able to enter service no earlier than the middle of this decade.
The reinforcement from two or three new VKP aircraft, which will further increase the air command of the Russian Army in the event of a situation; at the same time, to remove from service these aircraft which are outdated and gradually expired.
Currently, the Russian Aerospace Forces own a number of strategic airborne command aircraft, ensuring to meet current requirements and challenges. At the same time, continue to develop new vehicles and upgrade existing ones, to meet the requirements of ensuring national security in all situations.