Everyone knows Air Force One, the US presidential plane immortalized in several Hollywood films, but few know that the president of the Russian Federation, or new Tsar Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin travel in an equally technological and luxurious presidential plane. A flying headquarters, with gold-plated taps and a “button room” from which it can deploy the Russian armies: including the nuclear triad.
Made by the Voronezh Aircraft Production Association, manufacturer of some of the best Soviet-era aircraft – from the legendary WWII Il-2 Shturmovik bomber, to the Cold War strategic nuclear bomber Tupolev Tu 16 -, the presidential plane on which Vladimir travels Putin is a derivation of‘Ilyushin Il-96 300, a 64-meter long airliner powered by four Aviadvigatel turbofans – which allow it a maximum speed of 900 kilometers per hour – and specially reworked to accommodate “VIP” personalities. In its “Pu” designation, the four-wheeler that could usually carry over two hundred and fifty passengers has been redesigned to include the suite where the president obviously lives, a gym, a generously stocked bar, and bathrooms with taps. gold plated as is the large table in the conference room, furnished in a classic and elegant style, with the State insignia on display.
Like any presidential plane – one of the first escape routes according to procedure for world leaders in the event of hostilities on the national territory – Putin’s Ilyushin possesses a special command center, employed by the president to get in touch with the general staff, mobilize the Russian Armed Forces and direct any type of operation from over ten thousand meters above sea level, in every airspace on the planet.
Spotted in Geneva during the recent summit meeting with US counterpart Joe Biden – with whom he discussed numerous and thorny issues, including allegations of cyber attacks from Moscow and the state of tensions in Ukraine -, little is known about the Russian presidential aircraft. Apart from the indiscretions released by one of its pilots, who reported on “state-of-the-art radar, radio-technical and optical-electronic control systems”, it is only known that it cost 450 million euros, and which, as often noted on the runways of major international airports, is escorted by two or more Ilyushin Il-76, the capacious Russian military cargo jets carrying part of the presidential staff and the “countermeasures” necessary for its safety.