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VLADIMIR Putin’s special ‘Doomsday’ plane which the Kremlin claims can survive a nuclear blast has been raided by “gold robbers”, reports say.
In a humiliating major security breach, the supposedly-impenetrable aircraft designed for the Russian strongman leader was targeted by a daring band of thieves.
Some 39 pieces of radio equipment were stolen after a cargo hatch was cracked opened, the reports from Moscow say.
The equipment contained precious metals gold and platinum which is reportedly seen as a possible motive for the theft.
The embarrassing heist came when the Ilyushin Il-80 Maxdome was undergoing a refit in the city of Taganrog, on the Sea of Azov.
A transport police source told Interfax: “Beriev Aircraft Company reported that a cargo hatch breach was discovered during an inspection of one of the aircraft.”
Police have found finger and shoe prints at the scene, it has been reported.
The windowless Il-80 is one of four so-called Doomsday planes designed to act as a flying Kremlin in the sky in the event of a nuclear attack.
Putin would be able to rule Russia and issue commands to his military – including ordering nuke strikes – from the airborne command post.
The US equivalent are the Boeing E-4B planes based on the 747 airliner – which to date, have never been broken into and robbed.
Russia had earlier announced it was replacing the Il-80 with a plane based on the upgraded Il-96-400M wide-body airliner.
Despite this, a refit on the Il-80 was underway.
Russia has previously showcased the aircraft at Red Square military displays.
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