Russian Navy – Ekranoplans

Russian Ekranoplans (Ground Effect Vehicles)

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Ekrano-what?! This unusual vehicle type are all developments of the original and giant KM “Caspian Sea Monster,” which was damaged and allowed to sink in 1980. One of the more unusual captures, these “daughters of the Caspian Sea Monster” are large ground-effect aircraft that are classified a ship by the International Maritime Organization, and were under Soviet and then Russian naval control. These two related types of ekranoplans were designed to fly just above the surface.

A-90 Orlyonok (1972 – 1993) (also described as Orlan class / Project 904) 5 built 1 preserved Moscow Naval Museum LOA 191′

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Artist’s conception of an Orlan Class Ekranoplan, ca 1986 NARA: 330-CFD-DD-ST-86-06692 (unidentified artist)

 

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A-90 Orlyonok plans credit: Kaboldy CC BY-SA 3.0

S-26 (1980 – 1993) preserved at Moscow Naval Museum. Transported in 2007 from Kaspiysk to Moscow along Volga River.

Orlyonok EkranoplanOrlyonok Ekranoplan Kaspiysk2005

Lun Class / Project 903 (1987 – late 1990s) LOA 242′ weight 286 tons empty. Powered by 8 turbo-jet engines, 4 on either side of the cockpit, this would have been armed with a complement of 6 moskit anti-ship missiles, in fixed tubes in pairs along the top of the fuselage.

MD-160 (1987-late 1990s) Laid up in Kaspiysk, Republic of Dagestan on the Caspian Sea for a very long time. In Aug. 2020 this apparently intact ekranoplan was moved about 110 km South along the Caspian coast to Derbent, Dagestan, where it appears to be beached about 12 km south of the city along the coast. It is reportedly intended to be displayed in the Patriot Park as a memorial or museum exhibit.

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Artist’s conception of an ekranoplan, which closely resembles the Lun-class, ca. 1988 NARA: 330-CFD-DD-ST-88-09484 (unidentified artist)

Ekranoplan Dagestan 2019

Sentinel-2 L1C image on 2020-08-31
This sentinel image from 2020/08/31 shows the distinctive shape of the ekranoplan beached at center, 6 km south of Derbent, Republic of Dagestan. It had been moved there from Kaspiysk earlier in the month.

Ekranoplan Derbent Dagestan overview 2021Ekranoplan Derbent Dagestan 2021

Spasatel / Project 9038 variant. (unfinished – construction ca. late 1980s-1991) Originally intended to be a second Project 903 Lun class, the design was revised to become a maritime search and rescue or ambulance transport. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the project was left uncompleted in 1991. The unfinished craft has been stored at Nizhny Novgorod East of the Volga shipyard and was moved outside during 2016. There appears to be interest in resuming the project. The dismantled craft looks relatively intact, with tail surfaces and both wings stacked separately along the length of the enormous fuselage. Ekranoplan unfinished nizhny novgorod overview 2021Ekranoplan unfinished nizhny novgorod 2021 

Korabl Maket KM “Caspian Sea Monster” LOA 302′ TDISP (1966-1980) After it was damaged it was allowed to sink. It was larger than the later Lun-class ekranoplan, with some differences in the tail structure and wings, had 10 turbojet engines, and was unarmed.

KH_8 Image Of Kaspiysk Special Research and Development Center_High
Image of Kaspiysk from 1968 showing the KM. National Reconnaissance Office.
CIA-Caspian Sea Monster Kaspiysk1967
National Air Photo Interpretation image of Kaspiysk during 1967, with the KM depicted in an expanded box. From LARGE AERO (OR HYDRO) DYNAMICALLY SHAPED OBJECT KASPIYSK, USSR. 21 June 1967, released in 2016.CIA reading room.