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Equipment stolen from Russian 'doomsday' military aircraft, media report

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By Euronews with AFP
A Russian IL-80 plane pictured during 100th-anniversary celebrations of the country's air force in 2012.
A Russian IL-80 plane pictured during 100th-anniversary celebrations of the country's air force in 2012.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Misha Japaridze
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Thieves have stolen electronic equipment from a Russian military aircraft known as the "doomsday" plane, the country's media have reported.

The Ilyushin Il-80 craft, known for its ability to survive a nuclear war, was reportedly infiltrated while undergoing maintenance at an airfield in the southern city of Taganrog last week.

Unknown thieves are said to have broken open the plane's through cargo hatch and taken 39 pieces of radio equipment. The Russian police and the Kremlin announced on Wednesday that an investigation had been opened, but no arrests have so far been made.

According to the authorities, "more than one million roubles" (€11,200) of equipment was stolen, but no further details were given.

“The Beriev Aircraft Company reported that a cargo hatch breach was discovered during an inspection of one of the aircraft,” the Interfax news agency has reported.

Euronews has contacted Russia's Investigative Committee and Interior Ministry for a further statement on the reported theft.

In a statement, the Interior Ministry of the Rostov region confirmed that it had received reports of a theft from an aerodrome in Taganrog.

The spokesman for the Russian Presidency, Dmitry Peskov, described the incident as an "emergency situation" and called for measures "so that this does not happen again".

It is not yet clear how sensitive the radio equipment that was stolen is, but the incident has raised questions about the security of Russian military resources.

The Il-80 is one of four secretive “Doomsday planes” in service in Russia, designed to be used as refuges and airborne command posts for Russian officials.

The aircraft, which does not have passenger windows, has previously been used by Russian President Vladimir Putin to travel with an escort of fighter jets.

A communications facility onboard the Il-80 would allow the President to marshall his forces while out of the line of fire in the event of a nuclear war.