The Ilyushin Il-20M (Russian: Ильюшин Ил-20М , NATO code name : "Coot-A" ) is a COMINT / ELINT variant of the Ilyushin Il-18. It was first observed by NATO in 1978.

Iljuschin Il-20
Role Surveillance aircraft
National origin  Soviet Union
Manufacturer Ilyushin
First flight 21 March 1968
Introduction 1969
Produced 1968–1976

History edit

The first flight took place on March 21, 1968, and the test cycle was completed in 1969.

Until 1974, the Il-20 (including its modifications) was manufactured at the Moscow State Aircraft Plant No. 30 “Znamya Truda” "Flag of Labour". The aircraft was developed from IL-18D.

Il-20s were not used by any air reconnaissance or other units of the USSR Armed Forces, but were directly attached to the headquarters of the fleet or district, i.e. were considered in the parts of central control. Periodically, the planes performed reconnaissance flights (for example, for reconnaissance along the border strip and the state border), participated in various exercises. Later, as a result of the physical and moral aging of the intelligence apparatus, the planes that remained in service were converted into transport-passenger ones and were used to transport cargo and personnel.

Little is known about the operation and performance of avionics. Il-20M aircraft were frequently observed over European waters during the Cold War.

Technology edit

The aircraft is equipped with special electronic intelligence (ELINT) and communications intelligence (COMINT) equipment. The cigar-shaped case under the fuselage contains the Igla-1 - Side looking airborne radar (SLAR). This is used for radar imaging and mapping purposes. A large A-87P camera is housed in another housing on the side of the fuselage. The aircraft houses the Vischnia, SRS-4 Romb and Kwadrat-2 ELINT systems. There are various antennas on the fuselage for collecting the electronic data. The two large antennas on the top of the fuselage are used for satellite communication. The Il-20M can thus transmit information to the ground command in near real time.

Description edit

A radio-technical reconnaissance station and aerial photography cameras are installed in front of the passenger cabin. The antenna of the radar station is located in the under-fuselage nacelle. The Il-20 is also equipped with a station for detailed radio-technical reconnaissance and radio interception equipment. In the middle and front part of the passenger cabin there are seats for six operators of radio technical systems. The IL-20 differs from the original aircraft in its lower flying weight, powerful Ivchenko AI-20 engine and increased flight range of up to 5,400 km.

The chief of the BRK (on-board intelligence complex) heads the camera crew. The flight crew consists of five people. There is a lounge with simple double passenger seats, a wardrobe, a buffet and a toilet in the tail of the aircraft.

Incidents edit

In October 2013, Russia used the Il-20M over the Black Sea to fly reconnaissance missions along the Turkish coast. When the machine was spotted, two F-16 fighter planes took off on the Turkish side to intercept the scout. The machine ultimately headed for Bulgarian airspace and the pursuit was aborted.[1]

This was repeated on April 13, 2014. Here the Il-20M, coming from Romania and flying east, again flew 15 to 20 nautical miles along the Turkish Black Sea coast before being identified and intercepted by four Turkish F-16s.[2]

On October 22, 2014, according to the Estonian military, an Il-20M entered Estonian airspace and stayed in it for a short period of time. The aircraft was identified and escorted by aircraft from the Portuguese, Belgian and Swedish Air Forces. The Russian Ministry of Defense denied a violation of Estonian airspace.[3]

The Il-20M was involved in the deployment of the Russian Air Force in Syria in 2015.[4] It was later supplemented by the Tu-214R.

According to a tweet by the German Air Force, on November 28, 2022, an alert group consisting of two Eurofighter Typhoon fighter planes identified an Il-20M. The machine flew without a transponder code in international airspace between the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad Oblast and the Russian mainland. The German alarm squad started from Ämari Airport in Estonia.[5]

According to another tweet, on January 27, 2023, a German Air Force alarm squad consisting of two Eurofighter Typhoon fighter planes identified and accompanied an Il-20M (RF-93611) over the Baltic Sea. The alarm squad belonged to the Tactical Air Force Squadron 73 "Steinhoff" at the Rostock-Laage air base, where they then returned.[6]

Further development edit

The Ilyushin Il-20PP is a recent development of the Ilyushin Il-20M, which Russia claims is capable of jamming modern AWACS aircraft and MIM-104 Patriot while blocking analogous jamming measures. As of November 2016, there are three Il-20PP.[7]

Technical data edit

The Il-20M RF-93610 was shot down by a Syrian S-200 system on September 17, 2018[8]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 13
  • Capacity: 13,500 kg (29,800 lb)
  • Length: 35.9 m (117 ft 9 in)
  • Wingspan: 37.42 m (122 ft 9 in)
  • Height: 10.17 m (33 ft 4 in)
  • Wing area: 140.6 m2 (1,513 sq ft)
  • Aspect ratio: 10
  • Empty weight: 33,760 kg (74,428 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 64,000 kg (141,096 lb)
  • Sensors: SLAR, optical, infrared and electronic sensors
  • Powerplant: 4 × AI-20M Turboprop, 3,169 kW (4,250 hp) each


  • Maximum speed: 675 km/h (419 mph, 364 kn) at 8000m altitude
  • Cruise speed: 620 km/h (390 mph, 330 kn)
  • Range: 6,200 km (3,900 mi, 3,300 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 10,000 m (33,000 ft)

Accidents edit

On September 17, 2018, at around 11 p.m. local time,[9] the command of Russian forces in Syria lost contact with an Il-20M over the eastern Mediterranean Sea. The machine was accidentally shot down by Syrian air defenses[10] while Israeli F-16s were operating over Syria and attacking ground targets. At the time of the shooting down there were 15 people on board, none of whom survived.[10] Russia initially accused Israel of using the Il-20M as cover for their F-16s. According to Israeli statements, the Israeli planes had already returned to Israeli airspace at the time of the shooting down. The Russian President Vladimir Putin defused the allegations against the Israeli Air Force and spoke of a chain of unfortunate circumstances.[11]

References edit

  1. ^ "Turkish Military Claims Interception of Russian Spy Plane". RIA Novosti. 25 October 2013. Archived from the original on 25 October 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  2. ^ "TSK'dan son dakika açıklaması!" (in Turkish). 13 April 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  3. ^ "Moskau dementiert Bericht Tallinns über Verletzung estnischen Luftraumes". RIA Novosti. 22 October 2014. Archived from the original on 23 October 2014. Retrieved 22 October 2014.
  4. ^ David Cenciotti (25 September 2015). "Russia has deployed at least one Il-20 Coot spyplane to Syria". The Aviationist. Retrieved 17 April 2021.
  5. ^ "Tweet über den Vorfall". Team Luftwaffe. 28 November 2022. Retrieved 29 January 2023.
  6. ^ "Tweet über den Vorfall". Team Luftwaffe. 27 January 2023. Retrieved 29 January 2023.
  7. ^ "Russia receives first Il-22PP Porubschik electronic countermeasures planes". United Press International. 9 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  8. ^ "Flugunfall 17 SEP 2018 einer Ilyushin Il-20M RF-93610 - Latakia-Khmeimim Air Base (LTK)". Retrieved 22 April 2023.
  9. ^ "Syrische Luftabwehr schießt russischen Jet ab". 18 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Verteidigungsministerium: Die Syrische Luftverteidigung hat russische Il-20 abgeschossen wegen "unverantwortlicher Aktionen" von Israel". Nowaja Gaseta. 18 September 2018.
  11. ^ "Putin wertet Abschuss als tragisches Versehen". Berner Zeitung (in German). 18 September 2018.