Thieves raid Putin’s nuclear war ‘Doomsday’ plane in bizarre heist

Vladimir Putin's special "Doomsday" plane has been broken into and looted, according to reports from Moscow.

In a major security breach, the aircraft designed for the Russian President to use in the event of a nuclear war was targeted by unidentified thieves.

Some 39 pieces of radio equipment were stolen after a cargo hatch was opened.

The equipment weighing several kilograms contained precious metals gold and platinum, which is seen as a possible motive for the theft.

This embarrassing heist happened when the Ilyushin Il-80 Maxdome was undergoing a refit in Russian city Taganrog, on the Sea of Azov.

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A Russian transport police source was quoted by Interfax as saying: "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 was reported.

The windowless Il-80 is one of four so-called Doomsday planes designed to act as a Kremlin in the sky in the event of a nuclear attack.

Putin would be able to rule Russia and issue commands to his military from the airborne command post — including the ability to order a nuclear strike.

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 was underway of the Il-80.

Russia has previously showcased the aircraft at Red Square military displays.

The USA has its own version of a Doomsday plane, which is painted white and blue with "United States of America" emblazoned on the side.

They are crewed by up to 112 men packing out their 231ft long fuselage which can hurtle through the air at 602mph.

The current president, along with their top generals and secretary of defence, would be expected to be on board the plane during a conflict.

Doomsday Planes can stay airborne for up to 150 hours even though a full-scale nuclear war would be expected to end within minutes.

Electromagnetic pulse protection is also built into the planes' fuselages so they can survive the impact of a nuclear strike.

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