Above the water with the speed of 450 km-h...

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Source: online edition of JSC "TRK forces of the Russian Federation "STAR", dated from 16.07.17

The website of the TV channel "Zvezda" tells about the new plans to create a unique machine that can fly and swim.

R.E.Alexeev’s Hydrofoil Design Bureau from Nizhny Novgorod, being a designer of combat ekranoplanes and hydrofoils, announced that it will resume the work on a new multipurpose ekranoplanes “Chaika-2”. It will be able to carry not only cargo but passengers as well. It is supposed to be delivered not only to the domestic companies, but also to foreign markets. The characteristics of the machine ae declared too. It will be able to get up on unequipped shore with a slope of 5 degrees, base on the water and airfields of the level of 2nd class. Its operation in wintertime with the wind’s speed of up to 12 m-sec. is not excluded. Cruising speed of ekranoplane will vary from 350 to 450 km/hour. The flying range of the machine will be up to 5 thousand km at the load weight of up to 9 tons and passenger capacity of up to 100 people. 

It is needless to say that the announced characteristics are presentable. They immediately remind us the predecessor of “Chaika” – the missile ship-ekranoplane of the project 903 “Lun”. In abroad that machine was nicknamed as the “Caspian sea monster”. It trials were carried out on the sea, into which the Volga flows. There it was spotted and filmed by American spy –satellites. It made a lot of noise at that time. Of course! Ekranoplane, which is able to fly over the water at a height of 1-5 m with the speed of 500 km/hour, carried on board six launchers of supersonic missiles “Mosquito”, which was in the West called as “Sunburn”. There was no the rescue of it, including to corvette, destroyer or frigate, aw well as aircraft carrier.

The missile flies to the target with zigzags in the cloud of water spray at a height of 3-4 meters above the wave. It is impossible to see it not only by eye but to find out by radar. And then it rises upwards, like a cobra, and strikes the target with great force, punching the deck or superstructure, and explodes there, sweeping the inside of the enemy vessel. Our enemies was very much afraid of this ekranoplane. No one in the world had such technic, which was ahead of that time for decades. And all attempts to design something like that in the United States ended in complete failure.

Unfortunately, the deployment of the departments of such ships-ekranoplanes, which are able to strike at ships and naval forces of the enemy, but also to be used as rescue, sanitary vessels, for urgent freight delivery in remote areas of the far North, was failed. The problem was that it was dashing nineties, the collapse of the Soviet Union and all ensuing consequences. There was no money for building, operation and maintenance of ekranoplanes of the “Lun” class and others, while there should be not less than eight items. The prolonged dispute on to whom give the money – the Navy or Air force, also led to the fact that no one want to prepare the crew. And now, the last of the number of unique ship-ekranoplanes  is waiting to be sent to the Museum.

There is no such project in the state defense order for 2010-2020. In addition, there is no talks about its revival. But maybe the civilian modification of the granddaughter of “Lun” – a multi-purpose ekranoplane “Chaika-2” will interest military? It is interesting question. However, in order to offer this machine to military, it is necessary to design it, test and prove that it is fit and safe for operation. The fact is that the civil predecessor of “Chaika” – a small ekranoplane “Volga-2”, designed for transportation of eight passengers, crashed in 2004, faced one of hydrofoils on the river. Since then, nobody carry out the building of ekranoplanes. There is no question about the competence of engineers of Alekseev’s Design Bureau. There is no doubts that the plant, where the ekranoplanes were built in the past, will cope with this task. But the problem remains opened: who will invest in design of such unique machine?

It is difficult to interest military for several reasons. First, it is not clear why it is needed. There is no sense to make “Chiaka” attack on the ships of the potential enemy. There is another technique for such tasks. For example, a nuclear underwater cruisers of the project 841 with cruise missiles on Board or the new multipurpose nuclear submarines of project 885 “Yasen” with “Kalibrs”.

And what weapon can board the ekranoplane with a lifting capacity of 9 tons? Only MANPADS, grenade launchers, machine guns. Shell we use it for passengers and cargo transportation in remote areas> It can be done by transport helicopters, although not at extreme range, at which “Chaika” can operate. It can be necessary may be only to have it as a case for providing immediate rescue and assistance in distress at sea? It can be but will it be too expensive to maintain one-two such ships-ekranoplanes, crew training for them? Everything should be calculated and understood, whether it is only way for such purpose  or we can recall the aircraft-amphibious. For example, A-40 “Albatros”. In short, the painting of ‘Chaika” in color “khaki” is ambiguous question.

Another thing is to design the craft for South-east Asia, There, in the land of a thousand islands, there hovercrafts and hydrofoils, designed by Alexeev’s DB, are being operated for decades, such machine as “Chaika” will be useful. But it will be difficult to penetrate that market, to interest It with the Russian passenger ekranoplane as well as to design it. Although, as we know, a rolling stone gathers no moss. Therefore, it remains only to wish Alexeev’s DB perseverance and good luck.