Sunday, 13th August 2006 by James Turnbull
An Ekranoplan (“surface-plane” in Russian) is a plane-ship hybrid that can skim over the water using the upward force of the WiG (Wing in Ground) effect, which forms a cushion of air under the short but very wide wings. It’s all explained on Wikipedia.
The Soviet Union planned to develop 120 Ekranoplans of the A-90 Orlyonok class, but in the end only 3 were built. When the Americans saw them skimming along the Caspian Sea they could only describe them as “Caspian Sea Monsters”. One of the 3 A-90 Orlyonok class is permanently parked on the edge of the Caspian Sea at the town of Kaspiysk.
The even more bizarre looking craft we see here is the only vessel of her class, a Lun (“Harrier”) MD-160 Ekranoplan, and entered service with the Black Sea Fleet in 1987. It is 74m long with a wingspan of 44m.