The incident with the theft of equipment from the Il-80 aircraft, which is the air control center of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, it is also called the “Doomsday aircraft” and the “flying General Staff”, in addition to bewilderment, raised a number of questions. How did they rob such a secret object? Is this an isolated case or is it a general tendency inherent in all aircraft manufacturing enterprises in Russia? It is likely that with the same ease, as the apartment of the robbed Shpak, the presidential “board number 1” Il-96-300PU can be robbed? And what did the robbers take away in the end?
Let’s start with why this Il-80 ended up in the Rostov region at the Taganrog-Yuzhny airfield, which is used by the Taganrog Aviation Scientific and Technical Complex named after G.M. Beriev. TANTK is known primarily for being / was the manufacturer of a series of Russian amphibious aircraft of the Be family, as well as Albatross A-40 (this is a military version). There is little that connects them with the Doomsday plane. Here the relationship with another aircraft – the A-50 “Bumblebee”, created on the basis of the military transport Il-76 with the participation of TANTK (special “stuffing” was done by NPO Vega specialists from the Moscow Research Institute of Instrumentation). It is a long-range radar detection and control aircraft, in some ways the “younger brother” of the Il-80.
Now in service with the Russian Air Force are 9 A-50 and A-50U aircraft, three more A-50EI have been converted for India. They are serviced and modernized in Taganrog. The control planes Il-80 (based on the civilian Il-86) and Il-82 (based on the military Il-76), which in some ways have a similar electronic filling, were also “assigned” there. Taking into account that the first of them was put into operation in 1992, the RF Ministry of Defense made a decision last year to modernize all four of its available air command posts. So the Il-80 ended up in the ill-fated Taganrog-Yuzhny airport.
All four aircraft of the “Doomsday” are part of the 3rd separate aviation squadron, which is based on the site of the Chkalovsky airbase in the Moscow region. Nothing threatens them at the home site – round-the-clock security, three safety rings, regular inspections and checks. By the way, the aircraft of the Minister of Defense are also based there. Sergei Shoigu – the main IL-96 (almost like Putin) and a spare Tu-154, which are also flying command posts. There, even pilots and technicians cannot approach such aircraft without checking.
– The security and protection system of any military equipment, including aviation, is built on the principle “from simple to complex”, – said the “SP” military expert Colonel Vladimir Popov… – More important objects are also given more attention, for example, if the headquarters of the regiment is under the protection of the duty officer, his assistant and several sentries, then the same General Staff guards a whole special unit.
In the same Strategic Missile Forces, there is a special service to protect both command posts and the ballistic missile launchers themselves. Everything is very serious there. The situation is similar in the battalions of the protection of military airfields, where it is not a watchman with a double-barreled gun that looks after modern aviation equipment. And if the supervision of, say, the transport An-26 is not so vigilant, although it is present, then the aircraft of the level of air control are monitored with special care. There, not only the sentries are involved, but also the officers of the military counterintelligence day and night at the secret hangars.
The ability to steal something is also present at military airfields; alcohol, sometimes aviation fuel, and some of the consumable technical materials are very popular here. At the same time, no one even tries to gut the internal stuffing of a combat aircraft – this is not an “awl” drained from the tank, for which they can be forgiven. And most importantly, very serious control.
In theory, control was supposed to be present to ensure the safety of the Taganrog-Yuzhny airfield, where the Il-80 belonging to the Ministry of Defense arrived for repair work. As stated, “TANTK Beriev” spent 24.1 million rubles on the provision of services to protect the transport infrastructure.
A certain FSUE “UVO of the Ministry of Transport of Russia” struggled for this money to provide reliable protection of the protected object from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021. But for some reason it didn’t. As a result, 39 blocks of various communication equipment were stolen from the air control center, as well as five boards from five of the same dismantled blocks. The damage was allegedly one million rubles.
– They stole equipment professionally, with knowledge of the matter, – the aviation expert believes Sergey Ptichkin… – The attackers knew perfectly well how to get into the plane and what exactly to look for in it. Imagine a person who first climbed into such an air control center, but he simply does not understand that there you can unscrew and pocket! In this case, the most valuable thing was “twisted” not from the point of view of secrets, but the most expensive in cost – boards and blocks, in which gold and silver are used in abundance. With the sole purpose of smelting and selling precious metals later, without thinking at all what damage can be done to the country’s defense due to a banal desire to get rich.
How the security was organized there, including such strategically important objects as the Il-80 aircraft, I cannot say. However, having repeatedly visited Taganrog, I can note that TANTK is in complete ruin.
Orders for the production of aircraft – one or two, and there were no more, the staff of the enterprise was reduced, there are also certain problems with the payment of salaries. And then they bring such a “golden calf”, which is simply bursting with precious metals. How not to use it? Similar cases have happened here before, they were written off as “not intentional expenses”, they took out the lost, that is, stolen from the storage facilities of the NZ, as a result, the work was completed and the object was handed over to the customer.
Now, apparently, they stole beyond measure, and when they rushed to look for what was missing, it was no longer found. The deadlines were running out, so I had to confess to the theft by “unidentified persons”, although no one else could do it. There are also questions about the security structure designed to protect such an important and secret aircraft.
Actually, why didn’t the Ministry of Defense take care of the safety of its command air command posts, or, for example, the Federal Security Service, which oversees these aircraft to a certain extent? In fact, in this situation, there are no questions to the military or the FSO. They handed over the facility for repair, made sure that the security system was in place at the enterprise and left before the completion of the work.
For example, when the super-secret fifth-generation fighter Su-57 is located on the territory of the aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, the local security service is responsible for it. When the plane arrives for military trials, including, as it was, in Syria, the specks of dust are blown off it by the military counterintelligence and sentries.
Here the question is largely to the departmental security of the Taganrog airfield itself.
First, they simply missed the very fact of theft with penetration into an object of increased importance.
Secondly, during the investigation, they could not even provide video recordings of the aircraft parking. That is, for something like 20 million rubles, they did not manage to put at least a video surveillance camera, put the same watchman with a dog near the plane for the night. And the words that the stolen equipment was outdated and of no value are words in favor of the poor.
The CIA, too, would pay much more than the stolen fees estimated at a million rubles to find out their contents and the information stored on them. Any document labeled “Secret”, as well as items of special importance, have their own terms of concealment, some have an unlimited period. And here, unidentified attackers with some ease took out almost half of the secrets of the Russian General Staff.
– The case is really outrageous, – continues the expert Sergey Ptichkin. – They stole for little things before, although at serious aircraft factories this is practically impossible due to strict security systems. However, the current situation in Taganrog with the Il-80 has gone beyond all limits. We must assume that both the military and the special services will now have to monitor the safety of secrets themselves, and not trust them to the Vokhrovites.