Russia plans to upgrade five Il-22M11 airborne command posts

The Russian Defense Ministry plans to upgrade five Il-22M11 aircraft to become multirole air command posts, the Izvestia daily said. The aircraft will get a retransmitting hub integrated with ground and air automatic control systems. The work is to be done by 2021 and the total cost will exceed 1.6 bln ruble (USD 25 million).

Il 22M11 coot modernization program 001 A Il-22M11-Surt Sokol airborne command post
(Credit: vpkrossii/Facebook)

The first to be upgraded would be the Il-22M11 with onboard number RF-9441. It made the maiden flight in 1982. The aircraft will get a retransmitting station to receive and transmit information by protected communication channels in the digital format. There will also be new communications equipment and high-tech command posts. The upgrade will make the aircraft compatible with all automatic ground and air troops control systems. It will allow commanding drills from the aircraft and control various arms and types of forces in special operations. The airframe will not be changed but its life cycle will be extended another time.

Il-22 remains the most suitable platform for air command posts and has no alternative, military expert Anton Lavrov said. "The Il-22 family was created on the basis of the civilian Il-18 turboprop aircraft. It has unique characteristics. A long flight range allows it to patrol in the air for a long time," he said.

At present only Russia and the United States operate air command posts of the strategic level. The most outstanding US aircraft are E-4B created on the basis of Boeing-747. They are designed for the president, the Pentagon chief and supreme US military command. In case of an emergency the flying command post can take over control of the US nuclear triad. Provided air refueling it can stay in the air for seven days.

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