Russia to design Cold-War-style “monster” to patrol Northern Sea Route

The Soviet-era Lun-class ekranoplan is now mothballed and stored in Kaspiysk, southern Russia. Russia announced Monday it was developing a more modern prototype of this peculiar missile-carrying aircraft under the 2018-2027 state armament program. (Alfred Schaerli/Wikimedia Commons)
Flying just a few feet above the surface, the wing-in-ground-effect craft could patrol huge areas where infrastructure is weakly developed.

It was nicknamed “Caspian Sea Monster” – the massive missile carrying half-boat, half-plane looking construction. First flying in 1987, the Lun-class ekranoplan with a wingspan of 38 meters only flew for a few years. After the Cold War, the battle aircraft was mothballed and is now stored in Kaspiysk in Dagestan (southern Russia).

A more modern version, named Orlan, is now included to be developed under the 2018-2027 state armament program. First, a prototype craft armed with missiles will be built, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told TASS on Monday.

“The state armament program for 2018-2027 includes the Orlan research and development work, which stipulates the construction of the wing-in-ground-effect craft. The prototype will be created as part of this armament program and it will carry missile armament”, Yuri Borisov said.

The craft will be used to protect the Northern Sea Route where infrastructure today is weakly protected.

Amphibious aircraft

Ekranoplans have the advantage of flying at lower altitude than ordinary aircraft but moves at higher speed than a ship.

TASS reported in 2015 that the navy expected to get a standardized ekranoplan with a lifting capacity of up to 300 tonnes by 2020.

The craft could also serve patrol, transport and search-and-rescue duties.

Conceptual designing and development work is carried out by the Central Design Bureau for the Alekseyev Central Hydrofoil company.

In January, the Barents Observer reported about the development of the civilian amphibious aircraft specially designed for the Arctic as it can land on sea, snow, ice and tundra.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada extends air defence monitoring zone to entire Canadian Arctic, Radio Canada International

Finland: Finland’s only aircraft manufacturer loses prototype in Lapland crash, YLE News

Norway: NATO sending more warships to Northern Norway, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Russian sub test-fires largest volley of nuclear missiles since Cold War, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Swedish military wants to double in size, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. Coast Guard turns to Canada for help with designing its new heavy icebreaker, Radio Canada International

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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