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IL-20M: the result of modernization of the IL-18 passenger aircraft

IL-20M: the result of modernization of the IL-18 passenger aircraft
Aviation helps military and civil services monitor everything that happens on the ground and in the sky. For this purpose, there are special categories of aircraft - reconnaissance aircraft. One of them, which became an aviation legend, is the Il-20M.

This is a unique device that combines the functions of a reconnaissance aircraft, an airborne command post and a repeater. It was developed in the late 1960s but remains in service today.

History of the IL-20M

The idea of ​​​​creating an aircraft for electronic and radar reconnaissance appeared in the USSR in the mid-1960s. At that time, it became obvious that military power cannot be based only on the number of armed forces and weapons. Intelligence information became an important factor, and the USSR needed specialized aircraft that could effectively carry out these tasks.

The Ilyushin OKB, under the leadership of the outstanding aircraft designer Sergei Vladimirovich Ilyushin, was tasked with developing such an aircraft. As a basis, it was decided to use the proven platform of the passenger Il-18, which has already established itself as a reliable and durable aircraft. This idea saved time and resources on creating a new model from scratch.

Ил-20М: результат модернизации пассажирского самолета ИЛ-18Il-18 became the basis of the future reconnaissance aircraft. Photo: YouTube.com

IL-18 was not chosen by chance. This passenger aircraft had good flight characteristics, a long flight range and a spacious fuselage, which made it possible to place on board the necessary reconnaissance equipment and provide jobs for the crew and operators of reconnaissance systems.

Development and re-equipment began in 1967, and already in 1968 the Il-20M prototype made its first flight. Tests have shown that the aircraft is capable of effectively performing its assigned tasks.

The first tests included checking all electronic intelligence systems that were installed on board:

✅Radar stations for detecting air and ground targets
✅Radio interception equipment for listening and recording enemy radio communications
✅Optical-electronic means for visual observation and recording

Tests have confirmed that the Il-20M is capable of successfully performing electronic and radar reconnaissance missions. In 1969, the aircraft was officially adopted by the USSR Armed Forces.

The massive profile of the Il-20M aircraft is easily recognizable. Photo: YouTube.com

Production of the Il-20M aircraft was limited, which is due to its specific role and tasks within the Air Force of the USSR and, subsequently, Russia. The exact number of aircraft assembled varies depending on sources, but most agree on the figure of 20 examples.

Technical characteristics of Il-20M

Being a specialized reconnaissance aircraft, the Il-20M received technical characteristics that made it ideal for performing electronic and radar reconnaissance missions. Let's take a closer look at the main parameters and capabilities of this air giant.

✅Wingspan: 37,4 meters
✅Plane length: 35,9 meters
✅Height: 10,2 meters
✅Wing area: 140 square meters
✅Limit take-off weight: 64 kg
✅Cruising speed: about 600 km/h
✅Speed: up to 675 km/h
✅Flight range: up to 6 km
✅Practical ceiling: 10 meters

The IL-20M received a spacious fuselage, which made it possible to place a significant amount of equipment on board and create comfortable working conditions for the crew. The aircraft is equipped with special workstations for reconnaissance equipment operators.

Turboprop engine AI-20. Photo: YouTube.com

As a power plant, the choice fell on the AI-20M turboprop engine, which provides the necessary thrust. The aircraft is equipped with 4 such engines with a capacity of 4 hp. With. every. Such a power plant allows long-term flights without the need for frequent refueling, while increasing the safety of the aircraft, which retains functionality even if half of the engines fail.

Goals and objectives of the IL-20M

This is a multi-role reconnaissance aircraft. Its main mission is to collect and process information necessary for planning and conducting military operations. But not only.

✅Radio intelligence, which includes interception and analysis of various radio signals
✅Radar reconnaissance to identify military bases, equipment and troop movements
✅Coordinate the actions of various units as an air command post for command and control and planning operations
✅Providing communication between departments, command communication between different levels of management
✅Optical-electronic reconnaissance, allowing you to detect objects in any weather conditions and at any time of the day

The unique capabilities have made the Il-20M an indispensable element in the military intelligence and command and control system. This is one of the most versatile aircraft in the world, which has become a symbol of the power and technological superiority of Soviet and then Russian aviation.

[h2]Role in Soviet and Russian aviation/h2]
From the beginning of its operation, the Il-20M became a key element in the USSR electronic intelligence system. It was used in various regions, including Europe and the Middle East, performing missions to collect information about the enemy and monitor the radio frequency spectrum.

During the Cold War, the Il-20M played an important role in the confrontation with NATO. The aircraft carried out regular flights along the borders of the bloc countries, collecting information about the movements of troops, the operation of radars and other military installations. Its radar and radio systems made it possible to track the activity of a potential enemy, which provided the Soviet command with valuable information for strategic planning.

Soviet Il-20Ms frequently patrolled areas of the Baltic Sea, Black Sea and the Far East, and also carried out missions in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Their main purpose was to monitor military activity and collect data for analysis. These missions were especially important during periods of heightened international tension, such as the Arab-Israeli wars and during crises in Eastern Europe.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Il-20Ms ended up at the disposal of the newly formed states. Russia retained most of these aircraft and continued to use them for reconnaissance missions.

Il-20M on duty. Photo: YouTube.com

The Il-20M continues to carry out regular reconnaissance flights along Russia's borders and in areas of its strategic interests. It is still actively used by the Russian Air Force. His tasks are serious.

✅Monitoring of border zones. Airplanes patrol the Baltic, Black and Mediterranean Seas, as well as the Far Eastern regions
✅Support for peacekeeping operations. Il-20Ms participate in operations aimed at maintaining stability in various regions of the world.
✅Ensuring national security. The aircraft continue to collect data that is important for strategic planning and protecting Russia's national interests

The Il-20M remains in service, although it is gradually being replaced by more modern models of reconnaissance aircraft. Nevertheless, thanks to regular upgrades, it continues to perform combat missions.


Photos used: YouTube.com

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