In addition to using a wide variety of converted bombers and transports for SIGINT duties, in the mid 1960’s Russia developed the Il-8 airliner into a dedicated reconnaissance platform the Il-20M – which was given the NATO designation Coot-A.
The Coot-A was designed from the outset to acquire all types of reconnaissance information, ELINT, COMINT, Optical and Radar intelligence. Mounted under the forward fuselage in a 26ft long pod is the Igla-1 (Needle-1) SLAR. Two A-87P panoramic cameras are mounted in the forward part of the lateral fairings on the front fuselage – the rear part of the fairings contain antennas for the Romb ELINT system. The Kavadrat ELINT system is served by a series of large and small antennas under the rear fuselage. This system is capable of emitter location, radio frequency and power measurement as well as determining pulse duration and transmission cycles. The COMINT suite is known as Vishnya (Cherry tree) and is manned by 8 operators. The flight deck crew usually comprises 5.
Around 20 Il-20M’s were built between 1969-1976 and were deployed around the periphery of the Soviet Union and East Germany.
Just in case you mistakenly heard that it was all ice and snow in Russia, take a peek at the Big Bikini Exposition. This is right on the river Moskva in Moscow!
Moscow has been the capital of Russia for almost its entire history. The exception is during the period of the Russian Empire, which lasted from 1721 until the Russian Revolution 1917. For these two centuries the capital was St. Petersburg. The Russian Empire was the second largest contiguous Empire in world memory; only the Mongol Empire had been greater.
Check out what's happening north of Mongolia these days, in Chita
Although you may not have heard of Sochi, on the Black Sea, they're building up quickly and hope to host the 2014 Olympics.
Other periods of Russian history include the Tsardom of Russia, from Ivan IV to Peter the Great, and the Grand Duchy (14th-16th centuries).
The earliest period of Russian history was ruled by the Novgorod Republic and Kievan Rus, which was the first Russian state dating back to 800AD in Kiev.
Modern Russia remains one of the world's superpowers. They launched the earth's second satellite, called Sputnik 1, and were the first country to put a human being into orbit around earth. (The first one is called the Moon.)
After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia became a federal republic of 83 states.
Text by Steve Smith.