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Russia’s so-called “doomsday plane” — which would be used by Vladimir Putin in the event of a nuclear attack — was broken into and stripped of its equipment.
The Ilyushin-80 was undergoing maintenance at an airfield in Taganrog in southern Russia when the thieves struck, breaking into a cargo hatch and swiping $13,600 worth of gear, according to the Moscow Times.
Shoe and fingerprints were found inside the plane.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peksov said the robbery was an “emergency situation” and promised that “measures will be taken to prevent this from happening in the future.”
The Interior Ministry did not specify what was stolen.
The break-in was first spotted last Friday. Thirty-nine electric units had been removed.
Russian military experts speculated the gear was stolen because some contained gold and platinum.
The top secret plane was modified from a Soviet jet airliner during the late Cold War to serve as an aerial command post for top officials to control their troops during a crisis.
It is one of four planes that were built to withstand electromagnetic pulses and have few windows to shield its passengers from a nuclear explosion, the Moscow Times said.
The first such airplane is believed to have flown in 1985.
A dozen people had been questioned as part of the investigation into the theft, REN-TV reported this week. The network said officials with access to the airfield could be responsible for the breach.
Taganrog, nearly 700 miles south of Moscow, is home to Beriev Aircraft Company, a beleagured state-controlled enterprise.
Beriev reported the theft to police last week.
The interior ministry and Beriev declined to comment to Agence France-Presse.
With Post wires