Russia police say thieves have stolen equipment and components from the Ilyushin-80 “Doomsday” plane – an airborne command center built to keep officials alive including President Vladimir Putin and in control of the military in the event of a nuclear attack, Fox News reported Thursday.
The crime was only uncovered during an inspection of the aircraft at Beriev Taganrog Aviation Scientific and Technical Complex, officials revealed Monday.
The burglary, which raises doubts about the security of classified military hardware, took place as maintenance work was being conducted on the Ilyushin at the Taganrog aviation, scientific and technical complex.
A cargo hatch was found to have been opened and over 38 pieces of radio equipment were reported as missing from inside the aircraft Russia military experts said the hardware was stolen because some of it contained precious metals like platinum and gold.
The suspects have not been identified.
Security has now been stepped up at the site, according to the Kremlin, which is investigating the incident. Few details of the aircraft are available, as the plane and its contents are a state secret.
Russia’s “doomsday” planes can take off from any civil or military airfield, according to state news agency RIA Novosti. Each has a powerful engine, modern communication facilities and a life support system that enables it to remain airborne for several days
Aside from the cockpit windshield, the plane does not have any windows, so those onboard are not blinded by a nuclear explosion, RIA Novosti said. The tail section houses an outlet cable antenna for communication with submarines.
While specifics of the equipment on board the aircraft are not known, it is believed to have everything necessary to control the armed forces, while also accommodating high-ranking passengers with areas for both work and relaxation.”
Russia broadcaster Ren-TV reported police had found shoe and fingerprints on the plane but haven’t identified any suspects.
Authorities gave no details about a motive for the theft except for the estimated value of the stolen equipment – more than a million rubles ($13,600).
The U.S. maintains four Boeing E-4 advanced airborne command posts, modified Boeing 747-200s designed to carry the president and other military officials in case of nuclear war.
President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said the theft was an “emergency situation.” “Of course, there’ll be an investigation and measures will be taken so that this doesn’t happen again,” CNN quoted.