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Il-80 / Il-86VKP / Il-87 Maxdome

The Il-86VKP ("veh-kah-peh" - Vozdooshniy Komanndniy Poonkt - airborne command post) is Russia's counterpart to the Boeing E-4B NEACP (National Emergency Airborne Command Post). It is meant to fly the the President of Russia and/or surviving authority figures and highest ranking members of the Soviet (now Russian) government to safety in the event of all-out nuclear war.

Some sources report that the Il-80 / Il-86VKP has the NATO reporting name Camber: the same as the passenger Il-86. Other sources report the aircraft is the IL-87 Maxdome. The Russian military name is Aimak. The word Aimak, or Eimak (Mongolian for "clan," or section of a tribe), is the name given to certain nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes of Mongolian stock inhabiting the north and north-west Afghan highlands immediately to the north of Herat. They were originally known as "Chahar (the four) Eimaks," because there were four principal tribes. They are a bold, wild people and renowned fighters.

The first Il-86VKP "Maxdome" was believed to have flown for the first time in the summer of 1985, with the first completed model flying on March 5, 1987. Deliveries reportedly begain 1987. Four aircraft were converted, originally registered SSSR-86146 through 86149, and were first observed by western photographers in 1992. Apparently the last four Il-86s built, the aircraft are heavily modified from the standard Il-86 airliner configuration.

An IL-86 was built in a special version of "Russia" to serve the President of Russia and three - in the form flying command post Il-80 - control of the armed forces in case of nuclear conflict. Four airframes (c/n 042, 043, 046 and 048, carrying quasi-civil registrations SSSR-86046, '7, '8 and '9) were delivered to the 8th Special Purposes Aviation Division at the Chkalovsky air base near Moscow.

The onboard air conditioning is filtered to keep radioactive fallout. It is hardened against flash and electromagnetic pulse. All cabin windows are deleted (including the portholes in the doors) in order to protect it from an electromagnetic pulse or nuclear explosion. Cabin entry doors are deleted except for the upper deck forward door on the left and the aft door on the right. Two of the three air stair doors [except the forward one] in the lower fuselange that characterize the Il-86 are missing. There is a baffle blocking the aft cockpit windows, possibly as an EMP or RF hazard shield.

Externally the aircraft are easily identified by the large dorsal SATCOM canoe on the upper forward fuselage. There two large blade antennae aft of this canoe, and numerous other small fairings forward of the vertical fin on the aft upper fuselage, and extending aft from the main lanning gear well on the lower fuselage. The lower fuselage fairings are symmetrical left and right of centerline. A small hemispherical pod is located above the APU exhaust. The tail houses a winch for a towed VLF antenna [possibly to communicate with SSBNs ], with a VLF trailing wire antenna fair lead located on the lower left side of the fuselage. A retractable refuelling probe is fitted below the cockpit on the left, with a pipe running back over the wing. It appears this directs fuel flow into the main wing tanks. The horizontal stabilizers appear to have a collar wrapped around their upper and lower surfaces inboard from the tip, which may be a sensor or communication antenna.

Another departure from the standard Il-86 airliner configuration is the two large turbine-powered electrical generator pods mounted on large pylons inboard of the inboard engine nacelles. These pods are approximately 9.5 metres (32 feet) long and 1.3 metres (4 feet) in diameter. Each features an air intake scoop on its right side, with a jet exhaust on the outboard side of the aft end. Smaller intakes are on each side near the nose, and both pods have a landing light mounted at their extreme front end.

Three Il-80's remain in service; they are painted in Aeroflot colours and international civilian registrations RA-86147, RA-86148, and RA-86149. RA-86147 has been photographed without engines, apparently out of service. The Il-86VKPs are based at Chkalovsky Airbase 30km (20 miles) northeast of Moscow (near the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center at Star City). They are rarely seen, although at least one was flown at an airshow.

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