Designed for performance at extremely high speeds and altitudes, the plane was almost impossible to shoot down. However, the stresses this put on the aircraft's engines were great, and the planes needed to be serviced outside the area of operation when not in use. They can be called after the presence of a Soviet Airfield.
It fell out of usage during Third World War, but during the Psychic Dominator Disaster, the Soviets deployed a slower spy plane, which would take photographs in a straight line while moving rather than one circular patch.
When called for, the spy plane would take off from a distant runway at high speed, fly off-screen over the designated area, and take a few snapshots. These would be transmitted to a commander's terminal, and the topography of the immediate area recon was requested for would be revealed.
Its widespread usage most likely led to the adoption of the Gap generator by the Allies as a standard base defense.
While the area revealed by the recon photos was decently sized, the Allied GPS was a superior reconnaissance system. While three plane trips could be planned and carried out in the time it took the Allies to launch a GPS satellite, GPS would reveal the entire map.
- The spy plane's was likely inspired by the MiG-25 Foxbat, in that is a high-speed/high-altitude aircraft and is also used for reconnaissance.
- Although the spy plane may appear to dodge anti-aircraft fire with its high speed, in fact it does get hit by enemy fire and it is only due to its high hitpoints that it is able to survive its mission. This can be demonstrated if the spy plane's armour and hitpoints in the rules.ini file are greatly lowered to the equivalent of a MiG's. The spy plane will fly as fast as usual, but will no longer be as durable over enemy air defenses.
- In the the PlayStation port of Red Alert and in Retaliation, the cameos of the spy plane and the standard MiG are switched.
- The thumbnail of the spy plane is the same as the MiG, just shaded blue.
- The in-game sprite features a canard design, while the icon has a conventional design.