Thieves Loot Russia’s Top Secret Doomsday Plane
(Bloomberg) -- Police in Russia’s southern Rostov region have opened an investigation into the theft of equipment from a top-secret plane intended for use as an airborne command center in the event of nuclear war.
The investigation was ordered after equipment worth more than 1 million rubles ($13,600) was stolen from the Il-80 aircraft at a base in Taganrog, local police said in a statement Wednesday.
The incident raises questions about the security of Russian military facilities in a period of renewed tensions with the West, even as theft has decreased since the initial post-Soviet years as President Vladimir Putin has rebuilt and modernized the army. Spending on the military increased by 175% from 2000 to 2019, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
“Given such a serious incident, of course there will be an investigation and measures will be adopted to prevent this from happening again,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with reporters.
Radio equipment was discovered missing last week during an inspection of the plane, which was undergoing regular repairs, the Interfax news service reported earlier.
The Il-80 is the first iteration of a modified passenger jet that is meant to be used as a command center by Russian officials, including the president, in the event of nuclear war. The distinctive plane, which has no windows save in the cockpit to protect against nuclear electromagnetic pulses, remains in service currently.
Russia is developing a third-generation version of its “doomsday” planes that is expected to enter service by 2025, according to a unit of Russia’s main defense contractor, Rostec State Corp.
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