September 25, 2022

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Meet the plane from which the Russian president leads the war

Meet the plane from which the Russian president leads the war

The Ilyushin-96-300PU, the presidential plane of Vladimir Putin, features an interior decorated with gold and precious stones, as well as nuclear explosion-proof armor. (Photo: Getty Images)

The Russian Air Force One, codenamed Il-96-300PU, has attracted attention and aroused curiosity amid the war with Ukraine.

Among the details of Vladimir Putin’s plane are a number of very strange features, from the interior decorated with gold and precious stones to the hull with enough armor to withstand the radiation of a nuclear explosion.

Dubbed Putin’s Force One, it’s a play on the US presidential plane, Air Force One, and has equipment that can impede communications and confuse enemy weapons, using laser anti-missile systems.

The plane is designed to serve as a mobile command center, where a nuclear war can be started, according to the aviation website Aerotime Hub.

Putin’s plane has a gym, a king-size bed, a 10-square-meter office, and a nine-seat conference room.

It also has a kitchen, however, the takeaway is heated only by the hostesses, which really provoked Putin’s complaints, due to the limited variety of food options.

Russian Air Force Ilyushin IL-96-300.  (Photo: AFP)

Russian Air Force Ilyushin IL-96-300. (Photo: AFP)

Designed in the mid-1980s, the Ilyushin II-96 was first launched in 1988 and first introduced on a commercial route by Russian giant Aeroflot in December 1992, according to Newsweek. The commercial version of Air Force One entered service the following year.

Putin is not the first Russian president to fly the Ilyushin II-96-300PU, which has been carrying Russian leaders since 1996 with Boris Yeltsin. In total, five modified II-96s were used as presidential aircraft, according to the magazine.

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A second Ilyushin II-96-300PU was introduced in 2005, before then-President Dmitry Medvedev announced in 2010 his desire to expand the fleet, and two more aircraft were delivered in 2012 and 2014. The last aircraft made its maiden flight last year.

It is estimated that the cost of the 2021 model of the aircraft will range between $70 million and $550 million, equivalent to R$360 million to R$2.7 billion, according to Aerotime Hub.

The five presidential planes make up a fleet of 65 aircraft and are tasked with transporting Russian government officials.

During presidential flights, two planes are used: one with Putin and the other with the rest of the escorts. The strategy acts as a security measure, according to the Daily Star.