Russian ‘Doomsday’ Plane Targeted By Thieves

The IL-80 flying command post of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation fell victim to local thieves. According to, the plane was stationed at Taganrog-Yuzhny airport when its crew spotted signs of a break-in at the cargo bay hatch. During the inspection, 39 radios and 5 communication panels were reported missing. As claims, the main goal of the theft were components containing precious metals that can be dismantled and sold.

The IL-80 (IL-86VZPU) serves as an airborne command post in the scenario of full-scale nuclear conflict. It has to secure the Russian President’s safety, stay in contact with the armed forces of Russia, and deliver launch orders to missile launchers for possible retaliation. The somehow banal theft exceeds the rank of national crisis as Russia’s national security might have been compromised. The full scale of the robbery is not yet known besides the information given to the press. It is still a mystery how the burglars sneaked through Taganrog-Yuzhny security and how they breached the cargo compartment hatch. It highlights a major lapse in Russian security.

The IL-80 fall a victim to Russian thieves. The communication equipment stolen is used for nuclear strike authorization by national authorities. / Natalia Kolesnikova (AFP)

There is no immediate threat of the communication equipment being used in the civilian sphere due to very specific parts used. Besides that, the stolen devices are reportedly likely to have been dismantled or are intended to be dismantled. The estimated value of the stolen equipment is roughly $14,000. Russian authorities are conducting a search for thieves.

If the theft of highly sensitive equipment from a supposedly secure location can be easily conducted by local thieves then it begs the question – how safe are Russia’s nuclear secrets?

We recently covered the subject of Russian ammunition depots blowing up. There are considerable issues with the Russian Armed Forces involving security, corruption, and morale of its soldiers. The problems appear to universal and extends much further the subject of ammunition storage. We can be sure that an investigation by the Federal Security Bureau (FSB) is underway. In the upcoming days, we can expect the Kremlin to voice their unhappiness with TANTK, the company, responsible for IL-80’s modernization, spent 24,000,000 RUB ($330,000 USD) on the security of the airport this year. It is clear that this significant outlay cannot guarantee the security of some of Russia’s most sensetive equipment.