The ekranoplan is a machine that resembles a cross between a ship and an airplane. It moves just above the surface of the water due to the fact that an air cushion is created between the short wings and the water, which lifts it up. This principle provides a number of advantages, and designers in the post-Soviet space, of course, tried to use it for military purposes.
The prototype of the military ekranoplan under the desigtion KM was made by Soviet designers and handed over to the army in 1966. The tests of the machine were to take place in the Caspian Sea. Due to secrecy from American satellites, it was transported along the Volga only at night. The first acute test took place on October 19 of the same year.
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The car was equipped with ten jet engines, eight of which were located in the bow and served only during takeoff to accelerate the car to takeoff speed. The other two were located in the stern and led the ekranoplan during the flight at cruising speed. With a fully loaded car, he was driving at a speed of about 500 kilometers per hour. An empty car without weapons and cargo could reach speeds even 100 kilometers higher. Speed was just one of the great strategic advantages of the ekranoplan.
Another feature that instilled fear in the enemy was the ability to move just above the surface of the water. Thus, he could easily avoid laid mines, was out of reach of torpedoes and almost invisible to the radars of the time. Therefore, it was an almost ideal vehicle for the rapid landing of soldiers and military equipment. One of the tested prototypes was also tested as a missile carrier.
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However, several accidents occurred during testing, partly due to poorly trained crew, partly due to bad weather. The ekranoplan could not fly over the water surface if the waves reached a height of more than two meters.
In 1980, the Soviets abandoned further development of this machine. After 1990, there were several attempts to revive the project. However, due to the end of the Cold War, it was more about civilian projects. However, due to high fincial requirements, they all soon disappeared into oblivion. In our time, we really rarely see ekranoplanes, whether military or civilian. You can see the military, decommissioned over the years, in the city of Kaspiysk on the coast of the Caspian Sea.
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