Russia RF VKS Il 80VKP Dmitry Molokovich 640Russia tests Il-80VKP submarine communication system

Russia’s ‘Doomsday’ plane, the Ilyushin Il-80VKP (Il-86VzPU), NATO code Maxdome, is the airborne command post of the Russian President in the event of a nuclear attack, also called the Flying Kremlin. This specialised aircraft was designed to evacuate the country's top leadership and operational group of officers of the General Staff in the event of the destruction of the ground and satellite infrastructure.

Recently, the Il-80VKP has been tested with an updated system which maintains regular communication with submerged nuclear submarines. For such a task, the aircraft has been updated with a new ultra-long wave communication complex which can set up a connection with an extended submersible communication antenna towed by the submarine.

As reported by Ruselectronics (Росэлектроника, Roselektronika), the modernisation of the communication systems of the Il-80 air command post is being performed by the JSC Scientific and Production Enterprise NPP Polyot, a Nizhny Novgorod based federal research and production centre, formerly called the Gorky Research Institute of Radio Communications. The ultimate goal of this modernisation programme is to increase the reliability of command and control of the strategic and general forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation through the use of advanced digital technologies.

Officially, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) operates four Il-80VKP aircraft, built at the Voronezh Aviation Plant in 1985 and put into operation after being equipped with the Link communication system in 1987-1989. The aircraft involved are RA-86146, RA-86149, RA-86147 (now RF-93645) and RA-86148 (now RF-93642). They are operated by the 3rd Aviation Squadron of the 929th V.P. Chkalova State Flight Test Centre at Chkalovskiy air base.

The initial stage of modernisation of these specialised aircraft has been officially completed by JSC OPK (United Instrument Corporation) in late 2015 when the second upgraded Il-80VKP, serial RF-93645, was equipped with the Link-2 unified onboard complex of the second generation has been handed over to the customer. The first upgraded Il-80VKP, serial RF-93642, was equipped with the Link-2 complex during the repair and modernisation in 2012-2013. Only these two aircraft have in-flight refueling (IFR) equipment.

In the future, the Russian Federation - Aerospace Forces (RF VKS) will receive two or three new air command posts based on the Il-96-400M which are being developed and built under the project Link-3S. The unrefueled flight range of the new Il-96-400M will double compared to its predecessor (Il-80VKP) and the all-digital radio communication systems of the aircraft will make it possible to bring orders to the troops, including strategic aviation, mobile and silo launchers and strategic nuclear submarines within the radius of 6,000 kilometers.

Photo by Dmitri Molokovich (via

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