The Ilyushin IL-80/IL-86VKP (NATO codename of "Maxdome") is an IL-86 four-engined, wide-body passenger airliner converted for specialized military service as an Airborne Command Post (ACP) / Command & Control (C2) aircraft. With the IL-86 developed in the early-to-mid-1970s, this mature airframe was selected for further development as a flying command post aircraft, resulting in the "Maxdome" offshoot. A first-flight involving a converted IL-86 airliner was had on March 5th, 1987 with deliveries following in 1988. Service introduction was unavoidably derailed by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 which led to official series introduction in 1992. Just four total aircraft were procured by the newly-minted Russian Air Force and this aging fleet continues in service today (2019).
The primary purpose of this IL-86 offshoot has been to support Russian governmental operations in the event of all-out war - namely nuclear war. This platform, therefore, is designed to keep high-ranking Russian personnel (including national leaders) out of harm's way, providing a "flying headquarters" of sorts while the situation on the ground is assessed and reacted to. In this fashion, the IL-80 is intended to operate along similar lines to the American's Boeing E-4B "Advanced Airborne Command Post" aircraft brought along by Boeing in 1974, these four examples built atop the framework of the classic Boeing Model 747 "Jumbo Jet" airliner.
A chief identifying feature of Maxdome is the rectangular protrusion seen along the dorsal line of the fuselage just above (and aft) of the flightdeck. This contains a powerful SATellite COMmunications (SATCOM) fit. Also along the dorsal line are a series of antennas running from the flightdeck to midships. The nose section sees a fuel probe fitted to help keep the aircraft in the air for considerable periods of time (via aerial refueling).
The four IL-80 aircraft in the Russian Air Force inventory (though only three are thought to be operational) are operated by the 8th Special Purpose Aviation Division out of Chkalovsky Airport.
The Maxdome series is set to be succeeded by a newer design being developed atop the IL-96 (IL-96-400) framework. The IL-96 airliner is considerably more modern and provides broadened performance capabilities.
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