Home » News » Around the Globe » Wednesday Aircraft Porn: The Ekranoplan

Wednesday Aircraft Porn: The Ekranoplan

by John Reed on September 27, 2011

Happy Wednesday (evening), I thought I’d post these awesome pictures of the Soviet Union’s Lun-class Ekranoplan rotting in a shipyard in the Russian town of Kaspisk on the Caspian Sea. Seeing the vessel laid up like this feels like I’m looking at some some sci-fi tale documenting the remains of what was once a technologically advanced empire…oh wait.

The 240-foot long Lun-class vessels were designed to skim just over the surface of the sea at up to 340-miles per-hour while carrying six, P-270 Moskit guided missiles meant to take out NATO ships.  Rumor has it that Russia may try to put the aircraft back into production.

These pics have been out there for a while but a friend reminded me of them today and they’re still fun.

Click below for some of the best images and a link to the collection.

For more, go here.

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{ 132 comments… read them below or add one }

brian September 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm

I would imagine the reason why Russia would consider building something like this, is because they have no confidence in their ability to build a heavy stealth bomber, which would be wildly more effective and useful than this nearly single purpose aircraft.

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Celt September 28, 2011 at 10:52 am

Czech Bi Static radar made B2 detectable before it was deployed.
B-52 could not pen. Soviet airspace as of 1963 – needed new terrain following radar.
Chow

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ProjectThor September 28, 2011 at 10:49 am

Meathead… this thing DOESN'T really fly… it's a freaking boat. Good Lord, look it up before opening your piehole.

Lunch.

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Guest A September 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Thank you! What part of that can't you wrap your head around brian?

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MeCommenting February 2, 2014 at 11:03 am

It did fly. It used principals that Pelicans use in flight.

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brian September 28, 2011 at 11:25 am

You still follow Soviet Propaganda?

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Brano September 28, 2011 at 5:08 pm

are you retard ? have you read something about this "craft" what was made for ????

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@GONZ0HUNTER September 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm

amazing…that thing is massive. love the 1950's esque styling on it.

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Timothy Smart September 27, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Oh like that won't show up on radar. never mind advanced SAMs, you could take that out with a bow and arrow

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Thomas L. Nielsen September 28, 2011 at 2:03 am

Please explain in what way the Ekranoplan is more susceptible to radar and/or missiles than any other FAC or maritime patron aircraft.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Zepheris September 28, 2011 at 6:58 am

while he was exaggerating, given the size of this monster… i don't think even the radar clutter will stop the radar from spotting this giant.

most aircrafts even maritime patrol aircrafts should at least be able to get closer to whatever is protected by the radar or missile as long as they fly low enough, but when you are THIS big… i don't think there is any way the radar is not going to SEE you coming…. i mean that thing is GIGANTIC even compared to larger aircraft like maritime patrol aircrafts.

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jumper September 28, 2011 at 8:24 am

Size. Lack of maneuverability at speed. Moves in only 2 dimensions. Wasn't designed with RCS in mind. Enormous thermal signature. Was that actually a serious question?

In a day of supersonic missiles, with hypersonic on the horizon, only Russia would think putting this 300 knot dinosour back into production would strike fear into the hearts of, well anyone. The giant ground-effect craft is cool as hell, but wouldn't be relative in today's military landscape.

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Thomas L. Nielsen September 28, 2011 at 8:33 am

Yes, it was actually a serious question. As I understand the idea behind the Ekranoplan/WIG, it should be thought of less as a low, slow aircraft and more as a fast surface vehicle.

As for radar signature, that is neither larger nor smaller than any other vessel of that size. And yes, the actual Ekranoplan in the pictures has no stealth features at all, but then again, it's an old design.

Infrared: Yes, it will have an IR signature, just like any other motorized vehicle. But IIRC those 8 big engines out front are needed only for take off, to establish the ground-effect cushion under the vehicle. Once in cruise, they can be throttled back or, more likely, some of them are switched off. I see no reason why IR signature should be larger than an aircraft of similar size and power.

I'm not saying that Ekranoplans/WIG's are the do-all, end-all. Like all air and sea (and space, and…) vehicles they have advantages and disadvantages. Whether one outweighs the other depends on what you intend to do with it.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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M167A1 September 30, 2011 at 11:57 am

You have a point Jumper, but I think you overstate it a bit. I would not spend the money on this either but its a valid alternate approach to the Sea denial mission.

This platform attempts to combine the strengths of a surface ship, sensors and range. With the strenigths of an aircraft, speed and reaction time.

Like attack boats this is most suited to restricted waters but having a 300 knot ship armed with cruiser sized antiship missles lurking about will tend to keep skippers up at night . Combine with some shore based missles. I bet you could keep that CV Battle Group out to sea another 100 miles. Thats 100 miles of your stuff that dosn't earn the negitive attention of some Hornet driver. Yes there are other was to get at something but what many of us forget is that there are always more missions than platforms. So this would all be for the good in the defenders eyes.

But again you're right, its not worht the cost. I would just build more fighters.

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William Peterson September 28, 2011 at 10:46 am

Nah,you'd need at least a battery of Screamin' Mimi's, or Long Toms… and something guided would be nice. But, point noted, against modern ordnance, it would be a sitting duck!

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Michael September 27, 2011 at 6:13 pm

It looks ugly.

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tiger September 28, 2011 at 2:00 am

Other than Anna Kournikova, Russians designs rarely are pretty…..

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justsaying September 28, 2011 at 3:38 am

I beg to differ…

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Carlos September 27, 2011 at 6:36 pm

It's not meant as an alternative to planes but as a naval vessel. Imagine a missile boat, or a transport, cruising at 300 knots.

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Stan September 27, 2011 at 7:03 pm

And getting shot down by a plane travelling 2-3 times as fast with a missile from 30 miles away the crew doesn't know is there? This interesting technical exercise had a single purpose, propaganda of Soviet technological superiority. Which was of course that much smoke going up some tailpipes.

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chaos0xomega September 27, 2011 at 11:52 pm

How is that really different from any other large aircraft or small naval vessel?

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orly? September 28, 2011 at 12:14 am

cargo capacity and speed

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Stan September 28, 2011 at 9:11 am

Cost/Effect. You can put many useful things on a ship, not so much on this thing. I look at this as an equivalent of Germany's ww2 era rocket glider and the super tiger.

William Peterson September 28, 2011 at 10:44 am

30 knots or 300, a target is just a target… and this was a pretty big one! :->

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Jayson September 27, 2011 at 6:41 pm

I remember an episode of Wings featuring this plane. Pretty remarkable I say.

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M167A1 September 27, 2011 at 6:45 pm

The Russians sometimes go all out in "applied military science" and this is an excellent example. Can't you just see this playing merry hell in the Baltic…..

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wqedsd September 27, 2011 at 6:46 pm

They are on the F'jord map of World in Conflict.
just sayin

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jhm September 27, 2011 at 8:42 pm

love that game :)

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John Borkowski September 27, 2011 at 7:36 pm

See it on google maps! http://g.co/maps/q82aw

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HalP September 28, 2011 at 12:20 am

Google Earth is better. And more fun. And faster.

Long live Google Earth!!!

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Stephen N Russell September 27, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Rebuild with todays Tech & you have a super Cargo skimmer to service Hawaii, Fiji, Caribbean, Seychelles, Phillppines, Java, Micronesia alone aside runs from CA to Baja Mex, or TX to Cancun Mex, Awesome. Renovate this plane type for Cargo use & passengers, say 100.
Ro RO mode for cars to acess.

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jumper September 28, 2011 at 8:26 am

The fuel burn alone makes standard ships and/or faster conventional cargo aircraft far more practical.

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orly? September 28, 2011 at 8:55 am

That, and in any seastate OTHER than DEAD CALM will destroy this faster than you can say "WTF."

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M167A1 September 30, 2011 at 11:58 am

I agree that fuel would be restrictive. Might make a good landing craft in some scenarios.

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DennisBullert September 27, 2011 at 8:40 pm

I remember about twenty years ago they had a story on the news about the plane. The Soviets allowed the camera crew to see it, but not the bottom which was "top secret".
Not so secret now……
It would be interesting to see a smaller version used for transporting people/cars/cargo between islands. In a place like Indonesia it could revolutionize travel and commerce.
The only place you would have to worry about reefs would be where you "landed". Unlike a regular ferry…..
Plus it would be a bit faster.

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orly? September 27, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Its not supposed to through rough seas of anytype.

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orly? September 27, 2011 at 10:55 pm

*go through

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Blight September 27, 2011 at 8:47 pm

Doppler radar would be the doom of these, just as it was for f111, b1 and b52.

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IronV September 28, 2011 at 1:42 am

Hmmm. B-1 and B-52 seem to be doing just fine… More than fine. Extremely efficient platforms in fact…

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blight September 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm

The original mission profiles for F-111, B-1 and B-52 were to fly nape-of-the-earth into the Soviet Union and drop nuclear weapons.

When the Soviets deployed aircraft with doppler radar to pick out these aircraft from ground clutter, their missions changed accordingly. There's a reason why strategic bombers became the weakest link in the Strategic Triad.

High altitude bombing couldn't work (the Valkyrie would get shot down like the U-2), low altitude high-speed couldn't work (see newer radar systems that could cut through ground clutter). The same is true with this hapless Ekranoplan. It flies in ground-effect, but it won't save it from look-down shoot-down.

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Matt September 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Ground clutter… from what, all the waves? Pardon the sarcasm, but seriously, it’s a sea-skimmer. There is no ground clutter. It would be seen, of course… unless it was equipped with some effective Electronic Counter Measures, signal jammers, etc. Also, if it upgraded to a missile that went farther and higher, and if it was equipped with some AAA (probably would only be able to handle a low/medium caliber) then it could not only defend itself, but it might actually be a rather effective SAM threat to bombers ingressing from the sea. Naval ships typically just stay put and bombers can fly around them. This thing could potentially chase down a bomber and take it out. It certainly looks like an ugly betty with little/no use, but if properly employed and equipped it could be a contender. All hypothetical of course because I highly doubt a design like this would ever become operational (again).

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orly? September 29, 2011 at 9:28 am

You really think something this huge can TURN at 340 mph if at all SURVIVE in any seastate other than DEAD CALM?

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Mike January 26, 2012 at 8:21 am

Another idiot with no knowledge or insight of what he speaks. This site is loaded with them.

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Rajarata September 27, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Well folks…..send a bu8nch of geese to its path & slash goes Ekronolan ! Waste !

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PMI September 27, 2011 at 9:18 pm

If you look at the first photo you can see one of the engines still has the grate that would protect the turbine from large FOD impacts.

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Matt September 28, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Right… Geese out at sea… Even seagulls stay within 25 miles of the coast (typically). I’m sure there isn’t a whole lot of threat of FOD for this thing.

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M167A1 September 30, 2011 at 11:58 am

Its a worry to be certian, but not a fatal flaw.

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Prodozul September 27, 2011 at 9:04 pm

What in the world… I have never heard of this thing. So you could imagine my reaction upon seeing the images posted…man this is just ridiculous!

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Alex September 28, 2011 at 8:33 am

Oy, dont dis him, he said he was amazed.

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M167A1 September 30, 2011 at 12:04 pm

The rooskies have their own approach to life. Generally brute force, but they will go to some leinghts to solve a problem.

After the wall came down I got to visit a Soviet airfield in East Germany.

There was a guy beating on something on a SU-25's wing with a hammer. I asked our guide (this was part of an exchange) and he said (with cigarette hanging out of mouth)

"is not racing car, is military aircraft."

Not sophisticated in our sense, but not invalid either.

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mareo2 September 27, 2011 at 9:59 pm

Put a mechanic droid on top of that and it can look like footage of a spacecraft from a Star Wars movie.

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crackedlenses September 28, 2011 at 9:50 am

I thought of StarWars too when I saw the monstrosity…..

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Ben September 27, 2011 at 10:37 pm

Does that thing actually fly!? It looks like the lift:weight ratio would be too low to let it get off the ground.

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PMI September 27, 2011 at 11:00 pm

They're meant to take advantage of increased lift provided by operating within ground effect. So yes it flies but only 20 ft or so above the surface.

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chaos0xomega September 27, 2011 at 11:55 pm

I think the real utility of the ekranoplan concept would be in cargo, not patrol/anti-ship duty. Boeing (IIRC) had a concept a few years back for a truly mahoosive ekranoplan type craft that could carry something like 10 M1 Abrams MBT's + a couple companies of infantry and gear on board at 200-300 knots for several thousand miles (I distinctly recall that it was more than capable of a transatlantic crossing). Don't think it ever really went anywhere though.

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HalP September 28, 2011 at 12:14 am

Hmm, I wonder if they want to bring it back just to sell it to Iran. They'd buy it. Russia needs money and Iran likes to flex muscle. At least, that's what I would do if I was Russia.

Does anybody know of a real small version of this? Like a personal boat? Just curious.

To Oppervlakkig – thanks for the link!!

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tiger September 28, 2011 at 1:45 am
Thomas L. Nielsen September 28, 2011 at 2:09 am

There are several civilan Wing In Ground-effect (WIG) vehicles on the market. Try googling "Wing in ground effect" and see what pops up.

The only problem is that the aerodynamic effects that make large WIG's efficient do not scale down well. So although small WIG's work, they do not give the same degrees of efficiency as their larger cousins.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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HalP September 29, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Thanks guys!!!

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Carlos September 28, 2011 at 3:24 am
Letsallbefriends September 28, 2011 at 3:36 am

I think rough seas were this beast’s main problem – 20 foot waves are not that unusual & weather changes fast. Then there are the giant squid…

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Thomas L. Nielsen September 28, 2011 at 8:36 am

And the Kraken. Don't forget the Kraken. He's a vicious bugger…. :-)

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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tiger September 30, 2011 at 1:54 am

That must be what the tail gun is for?

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Will September 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm

You're probably right about rough seas but even in relatively calm water the engines will ingest lots of salt spray. Corrosion & salt deposits may have been issues too.

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Alex September 28, 2011 at 8:38 am

Wikipedia had a link to this site with some pictures of it in flight.
http://www.se-technology.com/wig/html/main.php?op

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Pete September 28, 2011 at 8:58 am

It flies… just above the ground it what we engineers term ground effect…

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Tony C September 28, 2011 at 10:40 am

I wouldn't want to be in it on an actual mission – short life expectency.
This thing will be seen long before it got into range to fire it's missiles.

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dan September 28, 2011 at 10:49 am

I heard you can buy one of these suckers

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Alex September 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm

You'll have to wait for them to build more.

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A. Nonymous September 29, 2011 at 6:21 pm

There was only one of "these suckers" ever built and, as the pictures show, it is rotting away in a Russian shipyard.

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tiger September 30, 2011 at 1:56 am

For enough cash you can buy anything there. Migs, politicians, wives…

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M167A1 September 30, 2011 at 12:06 pm

I'll take two of each please.

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Mitch S. September 28, 2011 at 10:49 am

The thing looks like something from "The Thunderbirds" (my favorite show as a kid).
Could star in a Bond movie too.
Some Russian tycoon ought to resurrect it as a megayacht.

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M167A1 September 30, 2011 at 12:06 pm

Yep… Blofield's lear jet….

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Riceball September 28, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Somebody needs to buy this thing, restore it and put in on display in an aviation museum somewhere or get it back into flying shape and offer rides in it at air shows.

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Guest A September 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm

What are you going to do, tow it around at airshows not near the water?

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Jack McHugh September 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Sad to see it rotting. It would make a cool exhibit at some U.S. theme park. :-)

(Maybe at OKS – the Oshkosh airport.)

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M167A1 September 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Just don't try to fly it all the way to OKS.

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William C. September 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I rather doubt they'll ever built more. Supposedly the aircraft didn't work in rough seas. Still a damn cool concept though.

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Bjorn September 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Hell i love this it looks like it would bring fear into the hearts of its enemies!

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Lance September 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Looks neat.

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Tim B September 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm

I would not want to be the poor sucker trying to keep this slug operational for the mother country. All the salt spray ingesting into the engines… maintenance hours vs. operational minutes.

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Shakes September 28, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Nerdrage- reminded me of this immediately: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Amphibious_Interst

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AHSommer September 28, 2011 at 11:51 pm

The vectored exhaust would massively increase airflow over the wings, which in turn would create much more lift than normal.

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klply September 29, 2011 at 3:11 am

I think the majority of people are missing the point. This was an aircraft that exploit a condition WIG or Wing In Ground effect. The vehicle could achieve extraordinary speeds only a few feet off of the white caps. The soviets built these for the exact purpose of quick strike during a time when missile ranges were long and radars for things less than 25-50 off the water were not so much. With the alternate roll breach bearing straights in a quick way to get troops on the ground and protect advancing fleets with an unknown shooter loitering on the outskirts of a fleets protection zone.

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Stratege September 29, 2011 at 4:47 am

"This thing could potentially chase down a bomber and take it out. It certainly looks like an ugly betty with little/no use, but if properly employed and equipped it could be a contender. All hypothetical of course because I highly doubt a design like this would ever become operational (again)."____Matt, you got the points rightly. Newly designed and properly equiped Ekranoplan could be pretty userful. They can equip new "monster" with:__- Big-Aperture AESA radar__- Decent SAM of short – to – medium range with its own radar like a naval variant of the modern SA-22 mobile SAM which is able to shooting at moving . __- For offensive capabilities they could add tube launchers with modern SS-N-27 supersonic AShCMs (those are relatively compact missiles unlike the obsolete Sunburn).__- The airframe would be more likely bulid with the use of advanced composite materials (just like the PAK-FA) and painted with radar-absorbent paint for lower RCS signature. __- Modern avionics with the integration to the net centric warfare__The big question – what about cost of this "sea skimming monster". Another one – would it be more expensive than manned bomber or heavy UCAV?

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M167A1 September 30, 2011 at 12:11 pm

"This thing could potentially chase down a bomber and take it out."

It would have considerable difficulty catching any airrcraft. Perhaps if you parked your bomber at the beach it could cruse up and down trying to get an angle for a shot from its tail guns. :-P

Jokes aside this is more a patrol boat or landing craft than an aircraft.

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John Marshall September 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm

I think it’d make the coolest yacht imaginable, you could go pretty much anywhere theres an ocean. And plenty of room inside. Course youd have to be a billionaire to operate the thing, aint WIG’s grand? Well next to PBY’s as flying yachts.

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orly? September 29, 2011 at 2:39 pm

You are not learning are you?

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M167A1 September 30, 2011 at 12:12 pm

It WOULD look good in a bond movie…

Flying up and down the channel with JBs harem in it….

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Stratege September 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm

"So you think think that this would be more effective than the B2? Just because something is big and odd, doesn't mean its effective or the best use of time/money."

B2's payload – up to 22 700 kg max

Ekranoplan "Lun"'s payload – 130 000 kg

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M167A1 September 30, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Apple meet Oranges, Oranges.. Apples.

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Stratege September 29, 2011 at 3:09 pm

"This thing could potentially chase down a bomber and take it out. It certainly looks like an ugly betty with little/no use, but if properly employed and equipped it could be a contender. All hypothetical of course because I highly doubt a design like this would ever become operational (again)."

Matt, you got the points rightly. I think that newly designed and properly equipped Ekranoplan could be pretty useful. They can equip new "monster" with:
- Big-Aperture AESA radar
- Decent SAM of short – to – medium range with its own radar like a naval variant of the modern SA-22 mobile SAM which is able to shooting at moving .
- Powerful ECM and modern avionics with the integration to the net centric warfare (datalinks with T-50s, naval bombers etc.)
For offensive capabilities they could add tube launchers with modern SS-N-27 supersonic AShCMs (those are relatively compact missiles unlike the obsolete Sunburn). So no need to build giant vehicle.
The airframe of supposed redesigned Ekranoplan could be more likely to be constructed with the use of advanced composite materials (just like the PAK-FA) and painted with radar-absorbent paint for lower RCS signature.
The big question – what about cost of this "sea skimming monster". Another one – would it be more expensive than manned stealth bomber?

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Stratege September 29, 2011 at 6:27 pm

"I think rough seas were this beast's main problem – 20 foot waves are not that unusual & weather changes fast. Then there are the giant squid…"

The another one Soviet ekranoplan "Orlenok" which was designed for landing operations is able to fly at up to 3000 meters over the sea or land !

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Mike September 29, 2011 at 9:37 pm

It is even visible on Google Earth, search for "Kaspiysk ukraine" and zoom in on the harbour.

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Devon Edwards September 30, 2011 at 9:57 am

The problem was, in fact, salt corrosion.

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mopper September 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm

there exists an even larger version, google "Caspian Sea Monster". IIRC the main problem of these things was the horrendous fuel consumption.

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Вася October 1, 2011 at 7:37 am

Yeah, baby, this is Russia!

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Gilles Theophile October 3, 2011 at 10:19 am

In 1996, I had the chance to visit the shipyard where those crafts have been designed and build (Alekseyev Design Bureau, Nizhny-Novgorod, on the Volga river). I've seen her sister ship, the Spasatel, transformed as a search and rescue vessel after the collapse of the Soviet Union. All those crafts have been tested and operated on the Caspian Sea from Kaspyisk, in the actual Dagestan Republic. Testing with small prototypes started on the Volga in 1961 (SM-1 model) and the concept was so effective that, in 1966, they build and flew the biggest flying machine at this time, the KM (92 meters long, 540 metric tons, 550 km/h). I even had the chance to talk with one of the flight engineers and he told me that it was flown manually, as the automatic stabilisation and navigation system was not ready for the first tests. The KM flew until 1981, but it stalled and crashed after a pilot mistake. 4 crafts saw official service in the Navy : 3 Orlyonok transports (last flight : 1993) and the craft shown here, the Lun', which is cruiser, carrying 6 antiship missiles. The Lun' weights 400 tons, is 75 meters long and max speed is 550 km/h. She flew between 1987 and 1990/1991.
It is true that the underside was "secret", I was myself not allowed to photograph the underside in the factory. In fact, the secret lies in a kind of a "ski-damp" device, deploying to push upwards for take-offs, and to damp the craft during alighting.
Don't be mistaken by the wave heights it can sustain : she can land in 3.5 meters waves, which is considerable – thanks to the short / big chord wings – and no classic seaplane can do that.
To the contrary of hovercrafts who need engines to generate a static air cushion, she rides on a dynamic air cushion created by the forward motion. However, she needs huge engine power to lift off but as soon she is in ground effect, it is possible to shut down or idle unnecessary engines.
They look like airplanes, they behave like airplanes, they use aircraft flight controls, engines and systems, but they are not airplanes, and the structure is heavy and solid. Alekseyev design bureau design ships and boats, and is world-wide known for its hydrofoil boats, used almost everywhere in the world.
The ekranoplan program has been ended due to a lack of money and true interest from the authorites. But the technology is there and fits perfectly between high speed maritime boats and aircrafts. It is another kind of vehicle, which has been overlooked, unfortunately. Many experiments have been made in Germany, Australia, China, even USA, but only on light crafts, and only russians build the so-called "Caspian Monster" (in fact KM's nickname).

Rgds, Gilles.
France

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Gilles Theophile October 3, 2011 at 11:22 am

Just to conclude my long comment, I confirm that the ekranoplans have been build in Nizhny-Novgorod, a city quite far away from the Caspian Sea, and towed to the sea, on the Volga river, probably with some covers to hide them.

Rgds, Gilles.

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Carlos October 4, 2011 at 10:39 am

See also "James May's Big Ideas", pt 1. There he flies a modern, smaller version of a Russian Ekranoplan. Works very well, as long as you are confident there are no obstacles, and as long as you have enough space to stop in – no brakes as such.

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Dark Stirlitz October 11, 2011 at 10:11 am

Yeah, "Aircraft Porn", guys?))) I say: "У нас есть такие приборы, но мы их вам не покажем"))) So, just fart )))

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Richard October 18, 2011 at 3:51 am

That thing is awesome…!!!

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SeaSpam October 21, 2011 at 4:54 pm

The plan for the plane was to wait until it target approched a critical access point say the north atlantic near Greenland and the euro coast and it would approach at high speed from shelter and fire its missiles and retreat.

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alex November 4, 2011 at 9:26 am

that is an amazing build and you know the russians always go for big soooo.

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alex November 4, 2011 at 9:28 am

there is no telling what the russians can do with that back in production

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renowebb January 25, 2012 at 2:04 am

They had even bigger ones

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A Reader March 8, 2012 at 9:49 am

I would have liked to show this article to my kids, but having to explain what "porn" has to do with aircraft ruled it out.

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Former Nameless King March 10, 2013 at 3:35 pm

If you ask me, we could take all the best features from this freak, combine them with new tech, and voila! Instant world domination soup. Or we could just build more of these, etc. But there are so many up-close hi-def photos of it out there, we could probably just build one w/out schematics!

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brian September 28, 2011 at 10:24 am

So you think think that this would be more effective than the B2? Just because something is big and odd, doesn't mean its effective or the best use of time/money.

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Guest A September 28, 2011 at 10:34 am

I think your clearly missing the core concept of this vehicle…

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ProjectThor September 28, 2011 at 10:52 am

It's a freaking BOAT, people…

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brian September 28, 2011 at 11:30 am

There is a difference between grasping the concept of a vehicle, and understanding whether its the most useful and efficient concept. I am simply saying no rational nation would build something like this, if they could build a true stealth bomber. A stealth bomber would be faster, less detectable, and carry smaller and deadlier missiles as well as being able to launch its missiles from further away. You could also use it over land too.

Its big and inspiring, but for this mission it's simply not worth the it.

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Tim September 28, 2011 at 11:40 am

I agree with you. The same goes for the Typhoon class submarine, which is more than twice the size of an Ohio class submarine but is not anymore lethal than the latter. It seemed as though Soviet military designer suffered the classic case of 'mine is BIGGER than yours' mentality.

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Thomas L. Nielsen September 29, 2011 at 10:57 am

"….no rational nation would build something like this, if they could build a true stealth bomber."

Sorry, but that's like saying that no rational nation would build an LCAC or an LCS if they could build a "true" stealth bomber. The Ekranoplan is not intended to replace, or act as, a strategic bomber aircraft.

So if you contend that "….for this mission it's simply not worth the it.", I'd like to know what "this mission" is?

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Daniel Branescu July 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm

It was never intended to be, or to match the performance, a stealth bomber. Nowhere near. It might fly low and give its generation's RADAR systems a run for their money, but the structural design and materials made it as stealthy (in the true "stealth design" meaning) as a cruise ship. It doesn't even FLY, if you are to take into account what flight is from an useful functional perspective – therefore it can't be classified as a bomber, nor as a ship. It's a Frankenstein of military brainstorming.

This is coastal defence vehicle technology at its most ingenious, even if it seems like a show-off. Instead of putting money into a large, slow, unwieldy frigate that won't really do more than 30 knots at BEST, you create a craft that skims the surface at 350+ miles per hour, boasting advanced radar capability to support other forces, and equipped with deadly ASM's.

Frigates and most coastal defence ships at the time of the Lun's development came with minimal, if any, anti-aircraft defenses. Most frigates had "small" caliber (20-75mm) autocannons that could not possibly track anything moving faster than a speedboat, SAM systems within maybe the 30km range, no CIWS, no other form of effective guided munitions.

Therefore, the Lun, with its P270 Moskit missiles, was a very lethal threat. These missiles travel at Mach 3, at a cruise altitude of maximum 20 metres, and have a range of 120 km. FAR beyond the defense capabilities of any coastal water-faring ships of the time (which, given that this was in the early 90's, were most likely of 1980 design and earlier). Too fast and too low for most radars to detect.

No ship of this class could have ever taken the Lun head-on and won against 6 Moskit missiles. Therefore, for an experimental design, its potential capability was superior given the period's military technology.

Long story short: please try to understand the technological environment that is featured in these types of discussions (military equipment/vehicles/prototypes) before coming to a conclusion. Knowledge of when something was created, why it was, for what purpose, and with what technology is crucial. As a military technology fanatic I pulled most of this information out of my memory, but even 10 minutes and a handful of Google searches will give you far more detailed and accurate data on which to rely.

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brian September 28, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I was replying to celt, not you

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brian September 29, 2011 at 10:04 am

Again i point to the article, that the reason they developed this plane had to do with evading radar, that in fact that is a form of stealth. The plane pictured above despite its size is a pure combatant, a production model that stalled at 1 unit and they are actually in the process of building a new one. They originally intended to build 24 of these boats, which certainly is not a number large enough to overwhelm a carrier group let alone our entire navy. We can certainly build missiles faster and cheaper than they can build these monsters. Now I am not saying that these beasts are not deadly or even not effective. I am saying they are very wasteful compared to alternative technologies. I can say that with confidence because large ground effect planes have been looked at for 70 years and no one wanted to build them aside from the idiots running the Soviet Union. You know the same idiots that ran a huge empire into the ground by starving its people to death?

I am still not getting why your so hung up on this?

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Tom September 29, 2011 at 10:35 am

As said above, this "plane" the Ekranoplan was design to mix advantage of boat (heavy load) and plane (speed) .

Moreover it has the advantage to fly under the 90's radar sight.

It's not outdated at all. Unfortunetly for the project, it came to late (1980) . THe USSR was running out of money but the project was a big subject of concern for USA because they found it only when it was developed.
You can't say that they did a bad technologic choice.

You said :
"They originally intended to build 24 of these boats, which certainly is not a number large enough to overwhelm a carrier group let alone our entire navy."

But how many B2 have US ? 21 …. it's enough to do war every where

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Stratege September 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm

" I can say that with confidence because large ground effect planes have been looked at for 70 years and no one wanted to build them aside from the idiots running the Soviet Union."

What you talking about? The idea of combat/offensive Ekranoplan was not truly supported by the Soviet leadership and their Military command. Thats why those project were relatively poorly funded. Learn the full story how Rostislav Alexeyev (Ekranoplan's chief designer) begged to give him some expensive materials from the aircraft industry.

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brian September 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm

The mission is Anti-fleet ops. A stealth bomber with standoff missiles completely covers what this craft does, more effectively and is more useful overall.

The reason why no rational nation would do this, is because the stealth bomber completely overlaps this capability and does so more effectively and performs many other tasks this craft cannot do. Thats's it. I am concluding they don't have confidence in their stealth program because they are building this instead of stealth bombers.

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brian September 29, 2011 at 12:49 pm

"Moreover it has the advantage to fly under the 90's radar sight. "

Not true, 90's awax planes could surely have detected this. Stealth bombers are not detectable by awax so they win on this count too.

"But how many B2 have US ? 21 …. it's enough to do war every where"

Right B2's are very effective heavy stealth bombers that can win wars in small numbers because of their agility and stealth. Ground affect aircraft are expensive 1 trick ponies and are not nearly as effective overall.

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Thomas L. Nielsen September 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm

A stealth bomber would also be vastly more expensive and time consuming to develop, field and operate (B2, anyone?).

By your argument, no rational nation would have Fast Attack Craft, missile boats, cruise missile carriers or conventional (non-stealth) bombers if they have stealth bombers. So how come the US is still operating the B1 and the B52? And what's the rationale behind the LCS (OK, that one I'll probably grant you….).

And besides, anti-ship ops is not by any means the only potential mission for an Ekranoplan/WIG. Here's a quick rundown of things an Ekranoplan will do that I challenge you to do with a stealth bomber (others are free to add to the list):
-ASW (dunking sonar)
-SAR
-Amphib landings
So much for the stealth bomber being "more useful overall".

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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Stratege September 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm

Think about stealthy Ekranoplan with modern technology (RAM materials, ECM, radars, missiles..).
Ekranoplans never were intented to replace the strategic or tactical bombers in their role. AFAIK "Lun" ekranoplan was designed as coastal/defensive anti-ship killer – hardly detectable skimming platfrom for heavy cruise missiles.
B-2's agility? It has very mediocre maneuverability. And B-2 is not invulnerable too, but it much more expensive.

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brian September 29, 2011 at 2:48 pm

right even the idiots running the Soviet Union thought it was a stupid waste of money as opposed to different platforms. they still built one

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brian September 29, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Well i agree it does have some uses in non-direct combatant roles, but I don't see people ponying up for it. Amphib ops right now is a hard field to be in because shore defenses are too good right now to be using massive ground effect craft. There really isn't a good answer right now so we can leave that off to another conversation.

Now B1, B52, cruise missile carriers, etc etc, those are different use cases with some overlap but not a complete overlap, and you can make a case for them but for this craft, I'm just not seeing it. I would think if america tried to build something like this, it would be far more costly than a B2 so its probably a big reason why we haven't.

If you look at Russia, the owners of the current one, they had a choice of which craft to fly when their nation had economic issues and this is not one of those that they chose to prioritize it. That should give you some clue as how good the owners of the current craft think it is.

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brian September 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm

So you want to build a stealth version of this massive craft? That is going to be enormously more expensive than a B2. Hell even non stealth it will cost more.

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Tom September 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Very impressive to see cost estimation so quick…

I think you don't understand at all what is the strategic view developed by the ekranoplan.

It's not a question of price or capabilities … why not compare a LCS with a M4, or a Hummer with SU 27 ?

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Stratege October 1, 2011 at 2:56 am

There's no need to desing such a massive ekranoplan.
Unlikely it would more expensive than B2.

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Rob September 29, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Oh yes but we have something called F35… already outdated maybe already "dead" because companies were hacked and 2TB of data were stolen..

Only for 390B dollars.. enough to equip all country with a modern army.

So waste of money I don't know if it's relevant . Maybe research..

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brian September 29, 2011 at 6:15 pm

or a prop plane with an f16 ….

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Thomas L. Nielsen September 30, 2011 at 12:33 am

"I would think if america tried to build something like this, it would be far more costly than a B2" – You "think " based on what?

"….this is not one of those that they chose to prioritize it. That should give you some clue as how good the owners of the current craft think it is." – there were and are lots of good designs coming out of Russia, and most of them never reach the metal-cutting stage. That doesn't imply that the designs are no good, just that (as you say) there are higher priorities at that moment.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg

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