The new Russian aircraft will take over the role of the command and control of the Russian Army, in the event of a nuclear war, new aircraft built on the basis of Il-96-400M in Voronezh.
The Russian Aerospace Forces will receive two such aircraft. One of them is in production. It is also possible that in the future the Russian Army will order a third air command post.
RIA Novosti makes it clear that the project is called “Link-3C”. The aircraft’s radio complex will make it possible to communicate with submarines carrying nuclear weapons, as well as mobile missile launchers and silos within a radius of 6,000 km. When in operation, the doomsday plane will be accompanied by a fighter throughout the journey, this vehicle also has the ability to refuel to increase the range twice. The new aircraft will replace the old and decommissioned Il-80.
In 2020, a source in the defense industry reported that Russia’s strategic airborne command posts (VKP), aka “Doomsday Aircraft” were planned to move from the airframe Il-80 to Il-96-400M. “The Ministry of Defense plans to replace the Il-80 with the Il-96-400M. This will greatly increase the combat mission time of the air command post and will increase the coverage in the role of command as well as control,”
Currently, the second generation airborne command post based on the Il-80 is created on the basis of the Il-86 aircraft. VKP is part of the Air Command System of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. This vehicle is designed to operate in conditions of failure of ground command posts, broken lines of communication, rapidly changing operational situation, as well as in the field of enemy use of nuclear weapons. That is why this particular plane is often referred to as the “Airplane of the Doomsday”. In total, 4 such vehicles were created in Russia.
In 2019, it was reported that the second generation airborne command posts of strategic control based on the Il-80 and Il-82 will be modernized, a report on this topic was released in the summer of 2019. Spring 2019.
At the same time, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko said that the country’s Aerospace Forces intend to receive the upgraded second-generation VKP.
Work on the creation of the third generation airborne command post was announced in 2015 at the MAKS 2015 air show. The aircraft is being developed on the basis of the improved Il-96-400M, work is carried out by the Nizhny Novgorod research and production enterprise “Polet”, which developed the second generation VKP.
Even so, at what stage the third generation VKP currently underway has not been reported in detail. Note that today only the US and Russia are equipped with the “Doomsday Plane”.
In the US, the E-4B Mercury is used as a flying bunker – this is a modified version of the Boeing 747-200. This aircraft is also designed to survive a nuclear war, it is even older than the Il-80 because it was used in the 1970s. This air command has analog and digital systems onboard and is integrated with a satellite communications complex for command of ground forces and naval fleets.
America’s doomsday plane has three living decks and several lounges. Besides it can stay in the air depending on refueling, for about a week – more than 150 hours.