During the year 1987, Russia was pushing their boundaries on technology and military advancement. What they were building and testing during that time actually prompted the United States, Area 51 in fact, to build unmanned drones to spy on their actions. This plan of action was brought about when images were taken of a giant vessel flying across the Caspian Sea at unheard of speeds. The US military wasn’t sure what they were looking at. A vessel that could reach speeds achieved only by airplanes but stayed low enough that it would hide under radar much like a stealthy boat. The spying revealed what the Russian’s dubbed the Lun Class Ekranoplan. Not quite an airplane and not quite a ship, the Ekranoplan was something much more and it terrified Navies around the world. It weighs in at a whopping 380 tons and has a wingspan of 148 feet. It contained 6 anti-ship missiles that could be launched from flight or from a stand still. The Lun Class Ekranoplan could only reach an altitude of about 15 feet above the sea so it was more of a harrier styled ship than a plane. This incredible piece of machinery is in a class all its own. Take a look at some incredible images and a video of the Russian Lun Class Ekranoplan below.
The Russians might be a little crazy but one thing is for sure, they like to push the envelope in all matters of their lives. This is especially true when it comes to their aquatic aviation ventures. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it? The Ekranoplan is unlike anything else on the water and it reigned supreme for a very short time. It was a force to be reckoned with and will be remembered in the pages of aviation history. I can only imagine seeing this war craft flying past, off in the distance at 300 mph. Not quite a ship, not quite an airplane, and not quite a hovercraft, the Lun Class Ekranoplan is in a class all its own and I think it is incredible!