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Ilyushin Il-400VKP Aerial Command Post

The IL-96 400 VKP ("veh-kah-peh" - Vozdooshniy Komanndniy Poonkt - airborne command post) is the replacement of the outdated model IL-86 VKP (3rd generation air control point for strategic forces) for the Russian Armed Forces. The Il-96 is the only suitable solution for the command posts of the top commanders. The time when such new posts have to be made is nearing. The aircraft is also the only ready solution for the next generation air tanker. It perfectly suits the needs of the perspective aircraft and can ensure refilling practically anywhere in the world. Developing an alternative model would be far too expensive and technically senseless.

In the view of some aviation experts, the Il-96-400VzPU airborne command post should replace the obsolescent Il-80 that is in need of complete overhaul and compulsory deep modernization. The new aircraft should perform flights in the area of 500-km distance from the base airfield and remain on duty there for 12-24 hours. It is expected that the potential of the Il-96-400VzPU will surpass that of the Il-80 by over 100 per cent and will be insignificantly inferior to the US E-4B in terms of airborne alert time. The combat capacity of the Russian airborne command post can be equalled to those of the US E-4B by increasing its flight duration thanks to using the Il-196 next generation aircraft as a base.

The Voronezh aviation plant can build between two and four airborne command posts based on Il-96-400T or Il-196 by 2015-20. Specialists did not rule out that an electronic reconnaissance and reaction aircraft and a distant early warning and control aircraft, similar to the US E-3 Sentry AWACS aircraft, can be built based on the Il-96-400T.

On 27 July 2016 Voronezh Aircraft Factory finally presented Russia’s Ministry of Defense the new specialized airborne command system also known as the 'doomsday plane'. The new third-generation airborne command post is based on a modified Ilyushin Il-96-400 wide-body aircraft. It should be noted that late in 2015 the Russian military has already received a second-generation 'doomsday plane' based on an Ilyushin Il-80 aircraft.

Igor Korotchenko, military analyst and editor-in-chief of the National Defense magazine, told Sputnik that the 'doomsday plane' is designed to provide command and control of Russian military and strategic nuclear forces in case of a major conflict or even a full-scale invasion of Russia. He further explained that the aircraft essentially balances out the command and control system as the Russian General Staff and National Defense Control Center also have a number of mobile underground and airborne command centers.

"It ensures the inevitability of a nuclear retaliatory strike in case any country uses its nuclear weapons against Russia. Basically, this airborne command post ensures that no attack against our country goes unpunished. Any state that may threaten the safety or territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, that may launch a war or a sudden attack, would face retaliation," Korotchenko said.

Flying aboard the 'doomsday plane' at the altitude of about 10-12 kilometers, Russia’s Defense Minister, for example, has the capabilities to command all branches of the Russian military, including the strategic nuclear forces, assuming that he has the appropriate presidential sanction, the analyst added. "This (aircraft) is a full-fledged command post that allows coordinating the actions of ground forces and navy during both conventional and nuclear war," Korotchenko concluded.

By 2021 Russia had begun working on a brand new version of its famed, soviet-era ‘doomsday plane’, an aircraft designed to house the country’s top leadership and keep them out of harm's way in case of all-out nuclear war on the ground. It is reported that the Russian government will receive two planes. As well as keeping the country’s top brass safe, the aircraft also acts as a remote command post, allowing the leadership to send orders from the sky. These new jets will eventually replace the existing Ilyushin Il-80 ‘doomsday planes’. With the latest technology, the newly built aircraft will have a much longer range, have the ability to refuel mid-air and be even able to communicate with submarines within a 6,000km radius.

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Page last modified: 13-09-2021 17:24:57 ZULU