The Il-80 Maxdome: Russia’s Strategic Air Command Aircraft for Contingency Operations
In the context of the Russian-Ukrainian war with new developments, Russia has conducted a functional test of the Il-80 aircraft.
The airborne command and control aircraft or “Maxdome” Ilyushin Il-80 tested a communication system with nuclear submarines amid a missile attack on Ukraine, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.
Accordingly, during the test, the Il80 maintained a stable connection with a strategic nuclear missile submarine in complex conditions. This shows the high readiness of Russia’s strategic nuclear forces to deal with any situation. This is also considered the closest exercise to real conditions that Russia can conduct. This move certainly makes the NATO military alliance pay special attention.
The Ilyushin Il-80, also known as the “Maxdome”, was created during the Soviet era to evacuate the country’s top leaders, command and control in the event of a nuclear war comprehensive multiplication. The Maxdome made its first flight in 1985 and was put into operation in 1992. Besides Russia, only the US owns this type of aircraft, the E-4B Mercury.
Heavily modified from the Ilyushin Il-86. The aircraft has no external windows, to shield it from a nuclear blast and nuclear electromagnetic pulse. Only the upper deck forward door on the left and the aft door on the right remain from the standard design. There is only one airstair door, instead of three. An unusual baffle blocks the aft cockpit windows. This may serve to block EMP or RF pulses.
Unlike the standard Il-86 airliner, the Il-80 has two electrical generator pods mounted inboard of the engine nacelles. Each pod is approximately 9.5 metres long and 1.3 metres in diameter. Both pods include landing lights. Like the E-4B, the aircraft has a dorsal SATCOM canoe, believed to house advanced satellite communications equipment, and a trailing wire antenna mounted in the lower aft fuselage for very low frequency radio transmission and reception.
In all, four aircraft are known to have been converted from Il-86s. Upon completion, all four Il-80s were delivered to the 8th Special Purposes Aviation Division at the Chkalovsky Airbase near Moscow. Recently, a source in the Russian aviation industry said that strategic air command posts are planned to be transferred from the Il-80 fuselage to the Il-96-400M.