Overview of the IL-80: history and technical characteristics

The IL-80 is an air command post created on the basis of the wide-body passenger airliner IL-86. Developed in the 1980s to manage the formations of the Armed Forces and the Special Forces. The other name of the aircraft: IL-86VKP.

History of creation and operation

In the late 1970s - early 1980s, a new round of tension began between the USSR and the USA. In connection with the introduction of Soviet troops in Afghanistan, the rivalry between the superpowers reached its maximum since the days of the Caribbean crisis. The result of a complex political and diplomatic situation was the new stage of the arms race, as well as the increased danger of the Cold War developing into its “hot” stage.

That is why the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR decided to create an aircraft - an air command center that could ensure the control of troops and armaments (including nuclear weapons) even in conditions of nuclear war. In other words, the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union needed a Doomsday aircraft.

However, one should not make hasty conclusions and accuse our General Headquarters of “bloodthirstiness” or “aggressive intentions”. A similar aircraft (which became the prototype for the development of the IL-80) in the United States was developed in the early 1970s and was put into service in 1974 under the name Boeing E-4. So the creation of the IL-80 was also a natural reaction of the leadership of the USSR to its lag in this area.

The development of the aircraft was carried out by the Ilyushin Design Bureau. At the same time, the IL-86 liner was chosen as the basis for the creation of the new aircraft. This is explained by the fact that the IL-86 had a wide fuselage, the size of which was enough to accommodate the necessary radio equipment and on-board electronics. Already in the early 80s a new aircraft was developed, and in the spring of 1985 its first flight was made. The first impressions of the car were very favorable - she confidently and steadily behaved in the air, as well as during takeoff and landing. After the first flight began equipping it with the necessary equipment, as well as the stage of ground tests. As a result, the first flight with the installed IL-80 equipment was carried out in the spring of 1987, two years later. In 1997, work began on improving the air command center of the IL-80 and its electronic equipment.

In the summer of 1991, the development of a unified on-board system for the IL-80 began to ensure its possible use. Already in 1992, the aircraft was adopted by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. In total, as of 2018, 4 IL-80 aircraft were built. Initially, all these aircraft were part of the 8th Special Purpose Air Division. However, already in 1997, the IL-80s were transferred to the 3rd Aviation Squadron of the Russian Air Force. As of today, the aircraft continue to be operated. Also one of the IL-80 took part in the parade in honor of Victory Day in 2010 in Moscow.

Overview of IL-80 and its characteristics

Aerodynamically, the IL-80 is a nizkoplan with single tail fin and normal layout. The chassis is represented by 4 racks: one bow and three main. At the same time, for a more uniform pressure on the runway, the main landing gear is equipped with four-wheel carts.

IL-80 has a fairly large size consignment compartment, located in its bow. This compartment serves to accommodate the necessary electronic equipment. Also one of the major visual differences from the IL-86 was the absence of portholes. Pylons are installed on the wing of the “Doomsday” aircraft in which energy generators for the aircraft’s electronic equipment are placed.

Another interesting feature of the IL-80 is the possibility of its refueling in the air, which can significantly increase its maximum flight range, as well as the time of continuous stay in the air. The aircraft also features a reinforced design of the wing and hull. This is done to reduce the effects of exposure to the aircraft from a possible nuclear explosion.

Flight technical characteristics of IL-80:

  • Engines:
    • 4 x TVRD NK-86 developed by Kuznetsov Design Bureau, 13,000 kg each
    • 2 x turbo-generator in nacelles under the wings - providing electricity for the onboard equipment of the aircraft.
  • Performance characteristics:
    • Crew - 5 people. (flight crew)
    • Length - 59.5 m
    • Wingspan - 48.1 m
    • Height - 15.8 m
    • Wing area - 320 sq.m
  • Normal take-off mass - 208,000 kg
  • Maximum speed - 970 km / h
  • Cruising speed - 850 km / h
  • Landing speed - 275 km / h
  • Flight range - 3600 km
  • Practical ceiling - 11000 m
  • Equipment - a set of technical tools 83Т120.
  • The following antennas are located on the fuselage:
    • HF receiving antenna.
    • HF transmit antennas.
    • SDK-transmitting exhaust antenna.
    • ADD receiving antenna.
    • Antenna relay, VHF communications and communications with the Strategic Missile Forces.

The advantages and disadvantages of IL-80

The main advantage of the IL-80 is that this aircraft is fully suitable due to its characteristics to the role of the aircraft "Doomsday". Having enhanced protection against possible effects from a nuclear explosion, as well as the possibility of refueling in the air, it is able to perform its direct functions in almost any conditions. Also a big plus is the reliability of the IL-80 and its stability in the air.

However, taking the advantages of the IL-86, the IL-80, unfortunately, also has a number of drawbacks “borrowed” from its “elder brother”. So, one of the main drawbacks of the aircraft is its large mass, in connection with which it will be very difficult for an unprepared pilot to lift the plane into the air. It is also precisely for this reason that the IL-80 requires a longer runway, which in itself excludes the possibility of its use on a number of airfields. Another drawback of the aircraft is its moral obsolescence, since the IL-86 was developed and went into serial production in the mid 70s of the XX century.

Nevertheless, the IL-80 is a machine that can make a serious competition to its American rival - the Boeing E-4 aircraft. However, we hope that the use of these aircraft for its intended purpose will never be needed.


The Il-80 is the first (and only) aircraft of the Day of Judgment, which is part of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Its radio-electronic equipment allows the control of troops from the air even in the conditions of a nuclear conflict, and the cabin has a large capacity. And the work begun in 1997 to improve the air command post should provide him with brilliant prospects in the future.

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