Ilyushin Il-80 (Maxdome) airborne command and control aircraft escorted by Mikoyan MiG-29 (Fulcrum) jet fighter flies against blue sky background on display during parade festivities devoted to 65th…As President Vladimir Putin refuses to rule out the use of nuclear weapons against ISIS terrorists, a Russian “doomsday” plane will take to the skies next week.
Not since the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall has the threat of nuclear conflict been so high, with all sides readying their defences and attack capabilities for a possible “doomsday” event.
Last Friday the aptly-named HMS Vengeance submarine – equipped with Trident missiles with nuclear warheads – left Plymouth after a £351 million refit, the Irish Mirror reported .
Unknown to the public, and most of the sub’s crew, on board is a safe within a safe containing the British Prime Minister’s letter of last resort which can only be opened in the event of a nuclear strike on the UK.
No one has ever seen the contents but it has been reported Tony Blair “turned pale” when he signed the letter when he first became premier.
This week, Vladimir Putin ordered a Russian submarine in the Mediterranean to fire cruise missiles at ISIS in their Syrian strongholds, warning “high-precision weapons that can be equipped either with conventional or special nuclear warheads”.
The Russian President also ordered tests on an airborne strategic command centre aboard a modified Ilyushin Il-80 aircraft be speeded up as tensions with NATO member Turkey mounted.
The military superplane is said to be virtually invisible and is designed to maintain full control over Russia’s armed forces in the event of a nuclear war.
Should a conflict break out the aircraft will carry Russia’s top generals who will command the army, navy, air force and have control over a terrifying arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Aleksandr Komyakov, the director general of the research institute which designed much of the plane’s sophisticated equipment said the Il-80’s main advantage is its “invincibility”.
He said: “While command installations with known ground positions could be eliminated, an airborne command post is a target hard to disable because it shifts continuously.
“The Americans call this type of aircraft ‘doomsday planes’.”
Russia and the US are the only two nations in the world who possess such a jet but Britain has its own doomsday machines.
The Royal Navy has a fleet of four Vanguard-class submarines – Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant and Vengeance which form the UK’s Trident nuclear programme.
At any time there is at least one sub hidden beneath the waves and the commander of each vessel has a secret order he hopes he will never have to carry out for it can mean only one thing, there is a nuclear war raging above the surface.
If the vessel cannot make contact with the UK and the captain believes the Government has been wiped out he will walk to an area of the sub that is off limits to everyone but a select few.
There he will find a locked safe containing the British Prime Minister’s letter of last resort. The document has never been seen by anyone only the serving PM as it is burned at the end of each premier’s term of office.
The document carries the instructions to the commander on what to do if the UK comes under nuclear attack and the Government is gone. Such is the secrecy surrounding this doomsday letter it is held in a safe within a safe in the bowels of the massive sub which, if needed could stay submerged for four years.
There has been much criticism of the massive amount spent on the UK’s Trident programme which has only two purposes, deterrence or total destruction.
At all times one of these 15,000 tonne vessels will be wandering the seas aimlessly deep beneath the waves waiting for an event the world hopes will never happen.
Only a handful of military commanders know any sub’s location, indeed most of the crew are totally unaware of the 150-metre vessel’s position.
After the Queen appoints a new British Prime Minister one of his first tasks is to write the letter of last resort.
Tony Blair’s cabinet secretary has revealed the former Prime Minister went “quite white” on being told of the options open to him when compiling the document. In the event of a nuclear strike on the UK the commander will be faced with the horrendous task of pushing the button that would lead to the deaths of tens of millions of people.
Before he would make that decision the commander would have been out of contact with his superiors for a considerable time as well as making a series of other checks.
One of the more bizarre and quintessentially British checks being the requirement on the sub’s crew to try to tune into the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 for several days.
The assumption being if the BBC had gone off the air then civilization has broken down in the UK.