Russia’s so-called “doomsday plane” – which Vladimir Putin would use in the event of a nuclear attack – has been stormed and stripped of its equipment.
The Ilyushin-80 was under maintenance at an airport in Taganrog in southern Russia when thieves hit a cargo hatch and pulled out $ 13,600 worth of equipment, according to the Moscow Times.
Footprints and fingerprints were found inside the plane.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Beksov, said the theft was an “emergency” and promised to “take measures to prevent this from happening in the future.”
The Interior Ministry did not specify what was stolen.
The break-in was first detected last Friday. 39 electrical units have been removed.
Russian military experts speculated that the equipment was stolen because some contained gold and platinum.
The top-secret aircraft was modified from a Soviet airliner during the late Cold War to function as an air command center for senior officials to control their forces during a crisis.
The Moscow Times said it was one of four planes designed to withstand electromagnetic pulses and had few windows to protect passengers from a nuclear explosion.
The first such aircraft is believed to have flown in 1985.
This week, REN-TV reported that dozens of people have been questioned as part of the theft investigation. The network said that officials who had access to the airport could be responsible for the breach.
Taganrog, which is located about 700 miles south of Moscow, is home to Periv Aircraft Corporation, a respected state-controlled company.
Perev reported the theft to the police last week.
The Interior Ministry and Periev declined to comment to AFP.