Ilyushin Il-20 Coot-AIn 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. The current status of the aircraft is uncertain, but it is believed that the remaining aircraft are based at Chkalovskaya air base near Moscow.