In the modern world, strategic air command posts (VKP) exist only in the US and Russian air forces. But because of the unjustified decision of the former Minister of Defense Anatoly Serdyukov, the Russian Il-80 and Il-82 found themselves in an unenviable position.
In October, the 2013 of the year in the domestic media for the first time appeared data on the actual state of the Air Force of Russia. According to published figures, only 49 percent of combat aircraft are in good condition, and in the entire aircraft fleet there are no more than 42 percent. The IL-80 and IL-82 air control points are generally 20 – 25 percent, that is, the fleet of these special machines is practically earthbound.
IL-80 was created on the basis of the passenger liner IL-86 as a flying command post, designed to control the armed forces during the conflict with the use of nuclear weapons. There is no exact information about the secret IL-82, the special vehicle is probably built on the basis of the military transport IL-76. According to other assumptions, this is a repeater aircraft supporting the stable operation of the IL-80 communication and control lines.
According to the tender announced by the Ministry of Defense in November 2013, the Russian Air Force has four Il-2014 and three Il-80 for liability insurance for the owner of aircraft for the year 82. It is reliably known only about two machines of this type, now based in Chkalovsk near Moscow. It is noteworthy that according to the conditions specified in the annex to the document, both types of machines are referred to the so-called third risk, that is, they are insured for the period of international flights. Summing up these figures, we can conclude that only six-seven planes are actually combat-capable 1,5 machines.
The system "Link", which includes IL-80 and IL-82, is the most closed in all Russian Air Forces. Being an analogue of the American E-4В doomsday planes based on Boeing-747-200, Russian flying command posts should provide the Supreme Commander and General Staff leadership with the ability to manage strategic nuclear forces in the event of a full-scale war. Therefore, the above-mentioned number 1,5 raises the well-founded fear of specialists, because IL-80 and IL-82 must carry around-the-clock combat duty and on the first team not only take off into the air, but ensure the stable operation of all systems.
Let's try to figure out what is happening with the fleet of unique aircraft of the Link system and how problems with their technical condition affect the combat readiness of Russia's strategic nuclear forces (SNF).
From airliner to control point
The outstanding Soviet and Russian aircraft designer, Heinrich Novozhilov, who headed the Design Bureau named after S. Ilyushin from July 1970 to December 2005, in his memoir “About Himself and Airplanes” describes the creation of the Link and indicates that Marshal initiated the IL-80 project. communication Andrei Belov. According to the military plan, each branch of the armed forces should have its own command center, and one more - from the General Staff. VKP of the General Staff was the main in this system. If the aircraft itself was developed by the Ilyushin Design Bureau, the onboard equipment was created by the Scientific Research Institute of Automatic Equipment under the personal supervision of Academician Vladimir Semenikhin. To ensure stable power supply of onboard equipment, two engines NK-80 were additionally installed on the IL-24.
According to Novozhilov, since at the X-hour these aircraft must be in the air before the 24 hours, it was necessary to develop and install a refueling system. Initially, such a system was received only by the air control center (VZPU) of the General Staff. In the tail section of the IL-80 installed manufactured antenna with a length of several meters.
IL-80 "Link" - a unique product, not inferior to the American counterparts E-4В. But the choice of IL-86 as a carrier was not entirely successful, and work on the IL-96 at the time of creation of the “Link” was just beginning.
“IL-86 is a medium-range aircraft with a flight range of up to four thousand kilometers. It was originally created to transport passengers on routes from Moscow to Novosibirsk, Alma-Ata, Adler. But the Boeing 747 flew on transcontinental lines. Therefore, by definition, it hung in the air longer, ”an aircraft engineer, participating in the design of promising samples, told the Military-Industrial Courier newspaper aviation technicians. According to him, aerodynamic drag also plays a big role.
“In the aerodynamic characteristics of the 747-th and our 86-th in many respects are equivalent as machines of one generation. But on the IL-80 visually well viewed in the nose of the oblong design, which increases the aerodynamic drag, which in turn leads to increased fuel consumption. The machine is secret, so I do not know the weight and size characteristics of the onboard equipment. Apparently, this is quite a heavy load, ”continued the representative of the aviation industry.
Some media claim that the flight time of an Il-80 without air refueling can be five to six hours, which is clearly inferior to eight to eleven hours of E-4B. The American “doomsday plane” that made a lot of noise in the world at the Turkish Incirlik airbase last fall, according to the press service of the US Air Force Command, passed without additional refueling in the air. At the same time, the fleet of aircraft tankers of the Russian Air Force cannot be compared with the United States.
“The NK-86 engines are still too small in their characteristics for such a large car as the IL-86. This is not the fault of the Ilyushin Design Bureau, which created a beautiful aircraft from what was available. For all history the operation of the liner occurred only two flight accidents - a unique indicator for the aviation industry. But he clearly lacked a more powerful engine, ”the interlocutor of the“ MIC ”believes.
The existing problems were also known in the Soviet Air Forces, which in 1991 ordered the research and production enterprise Polet an experimental design work on the modernization of the IL-80 onboard complex, called the Link-2. But the collapse of the USSR and the gradual abandonment of airlines from the IL-86 with the development of their fleets affected the operation of the IL-80 in the Russian Air Force. Only in the 1997 year, work began on the modernization of the IL-82, which continued until 2010, and the IL-80 returned to the sky in the 2005 year.
Rather dead than alive
In 2012, it became known that the Ministry of Defense is considering the possibility of abandoning the operation of the IL-80 and IL-82 aircraft without further replacement. According to some information, then Minister Anatoly Serdyukov and General of the Army General Makarov, Chief of the General Staff, were behind this decision. An explanation of this decision did not appear. In the same year, testing of the first Il-2, upgraded under the project “Link-80” with a new unified on-board complex of technical equipment, began. In the process of upgrading the IL-80 "Link-2" received a system of refueling in the air.
If you go back to the memoirs of Heinrich Novozhilov, then we can assume that because of the subordination of the VkPu subordination to the combat arms, all the machines had individual differences in the composition of the onboard equipment. But most likely, the General Staff and the Russian Air Force decided to unify all four Il-80. It is also worth noting that at the end of the 90-s of the IL-80 and IL-82 they changed their subordination, moving from the structure of a separate aviation squadron of control and retransmission of the special purpose 8 aviation division to the 3-th aviation squadron of the 929 GLI VVS Russia, based at the Moscow airfield Chkalovsky.
The plans of the current leadership of the Ministry of Defense for the operation of IL-80 has not yet been made public. Last year, judging by private photographs of aviation enthusiasts, the Il-80 with the tail number RA-86148 underwent repairs and repainting at the aviation technical base of Domodedovo Airport. Nevertheless, the VKP Russia park is not in the best condition. It is not known whether other machines, besides the RA-2, went through the modernization of the project “Link-86148”.
The Americans with E-4, too, is not going smoothly. The US Department of Defense believes that in modern conditions, the CPSU is a vestige of the Cold War. In 2004, the George W. Bush administration removed the E-24В 4-hour readiness regime and they were used for international visits as well as temporary headquarters in the event of a national scale disaster. In 2006, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced that “doomsday planes” would be written off before 2009. True, the term is now extended to 2015. All the tasks assigned to them will be given to both liners of the special series “Boeing” VC-25, which carry the President of the country, and therefore are known as “Aircraft number one”.
If practical Americans refuse from VKP, then in Russia a question arises about the necessity of the “Link” system. The so-called President Il-96PU planes, based on publicly available information, can assume functions similar to Е-4В and VC-25. Anatoly Serdyukov and Nikolai Makarov have already expressed themselves on this topic.
Dmitry Kornev, editor-in-chief of the Internet project Militaryrussia, told the newspaper “Military Industrial Complex”: “Now Russia's strategic nuclear forces are actively being updated. It is not only about new intercontinental ballistic missiles "Yars", "Bulava", etc., but also about the latest automated control systems. In particular, the “Retaliation” ACS allows launching rockets and, if necessary, retargeting them on the active part of the flight path. ”
According to the expert, the stationary control points are vulnerable to the means of destruction developed by the Pentagon within the framework of the concept of a non-nuclear global strike. A BCP is difficult to track and hit.
“Modern atomic war is no longer just an exchange of blows, as it seemed in 70 – 80-s. The parties have the opportunity to change the attack scenario, work is underway to create missile defense systems. IL-96PU can ensure the launch of a SNF, but the operation should be managed by trained officers of the General Staff and VZUP, ”Kornev is sure.
In the opinion of aviation specialists, if the work on the “Link” continues, it is more rational to use the IL-96 plane to accommodate new advanced equipment.
“So far, of all the cars proposed by the Russian aviation industry, the IL-96 flies the furthest. Of course, compared with the "eighty-six", it transports less cargo and passengers, and therefore, theoretically, problems may arise with the placement of special equipment. At the same time, modern element base can significantly reduce the weight and size characteristics of the equipment. In this case, it is likely that the upstairs on the basis of the IL-96 will not lose significantly in the range and time of flight. It may even be possible to do without the IL-82 repeater planes. The PS-96 engines on the IL-90 are reasonably economical and reliable, ”says an aircraft engineer involved in the development of promising aircraft models.
Director General - General Designer of the Aviation Complex named after SV Ilyushin Viktor Livanov in an interview with the newspaper “Military Industrial Courier” said earlier that the four cargo IL-96-400T standing on the territory of the aircraft factory in the city of Voronezh and which the airline refused Flight, now converted into special aircraft. Specify which ones, Livanov did not.
The IL-80 and IL-82 air control points are necessary for the successful functioning of the Russian strategic nuclear forces, so we hope that the current leadership of the Ministry of Defense will abandon Anatoly Serdyukov’s plans and will not follow the experience of the Pentagon, and together with AK Ilyushin will not only return the Link in the air but will also start developing new upstairs with modern special equipment on board.