Russian state-controlled media has reported that Vladimir Putin’s doomsday plane successfully completed tests that communicated with a nuclear-armed submarine.
Russian Il-80 Doomsday plane
According to RIA Novosti, a senior Russian official said, “The Il-80 was tested for communication with strategic missile submarines that were submerged. The aircraft was able to maintain stable communication with the submarine while submerged underwater.” According to the unnamed Russian official, communication between the plane and submarine was made possible due to an extended submersible communications antenna towed by the sub.
Russia’s doomsday plane, nicknamed the “flying kremlin,” is a specially modified Russian Ilyushin IL-86 aircraft (the original model is used for passenger/cargo transport). The aircraft has been designed to protect Russian leadership in the event of multiple doomsday scenarios, including a nuclear war. The specially modified aircraft has no windows (except the cockpit, is immune to electromagnetic pulse attacks, has aerial refuel capabilities, and can serve as a communication hub for the Kremlin during a crisis.
Since the war in Ukraine broke out earlier this year, the doomsday plane has stayed relatively close to Putin’s primary presidential aircraft. In addition, the Kremlin announced it had two more doomsday aircraft under construction, with the possibility for a third.
The United States also maintains a fleet of doomsday aircraft intended to protect senior US officials in worst-case scenarios. The E-4B, a modified Boeing 747, has similar capabilities to the Russian doomsday aircraft and accompanies President Biden whenever he leaves the country.
US E-4B doomsday plane