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Project 903 Lun
Missile Launcher Ekranoplane

The ekranoplan", which has no analogues anywhere in the world, was designed to combat surface ships by inflicting a missile strike in conditions of weak opposition from the enemy's air attack. The main target of the missile carrier is aircraft carriers. The winged "Lun", due to its high speed of movement and stealth for radars, can approach aircraft carriers at a distance of accurate missile launch.

It was planned to create eight such ekranoplanes, but only one was built. In 1984 the leadership of the Ministry of Defense removed ground effect vehicles from the list of the agency's priorities. Among the reasons provided were the unusual nature of the project, the need to use new materials, etc. The first and, unfortunately, only example of this ship was floated out on July 16, 1986. In 1986 he was sent to the Caspian Sea, where he successfully passed the tests and was transferred to the troops. In 1991, his service ended. After the dismantling of the USSR, the construction of the entire series of devices was stopped (by this time, the second "Lun" of project 903 was 95% ready), and the combat-ready "killer of aircraft carriers" was put on hold in Kaspiysk.

Development of "Lunya" began in 1969 at the Central Design Bureau for the SPK (for vessels with hydrofoils) named after R.Ye. Alekseeva. CDB is located in Nizhny Novgorod; there it was also planned to build a series of several ekranoplanes of this type, and for large-scale construction of the Luny in Feodosia (Crimea) a unique production complex was erected, in the assembly shop of which six ekranoplanes of the Lun class could be located at the same time. The chief designer was V. Kirillov.

The evolution of Alekseyev's engineering thinking eventually led to the creation of a Lun Ekranoplan that could carry missiles. The project 903 Lun Soviet strike missile ekranoplan was built at the Volga plant located in Gorky, which is now called Nizhny Novgorod. The ekranoplan is designed to strike missiles at enemy surface ships. Its high speed and stealth radar allows it to approach aircraft carriers at close range for a rocket attack.

Alekseev developed a smaller military WIG, the Lun ("Dove"), armed with six large anti-shipping cruise missiles perched unaerodynamically on its back. LUN (known in the US by its NATO designator UTKA) was a one-of-a-kind vehicle, which was designed to demonstrate the concept of launching surface-to-surface cruise missiles from an ekranoplan, was constructed in the mid-1980s, and may have been flight tested from the late 1980s until the present.

The length of this vehicle was shortened to 73 meters, and the wingspan in turn was increased to 44 meters. The Lun was able to reach a speed of 500 km per hour, and it had a cruising range of up to 2,000 km. Maximum takeoff weight was 380 tons. The ground effect vehicle was armed with six Soviet "Mosquito" anti-ship missiles. At the time this was one of the most modern missiles. Mosquitoes were able to travel at supersonic speeds (2,500 km per hour) at a distance that made them difficult to detect and intercept by anti-missile installations (five to seven meters above the sea surface). By the power of the volley, Lun comparable missile cruiser, and the speed exceeds 10 times! Moreover, barely noticeable, agile. WIG, using its high speed, could strike at enemy ships and easily evade prosecution.

After lowering the flaps, the engines pump air under the wing, the ekranoplan rises out of the water. The effect of the screen is connected with the fact that disturbances (pressure increase) from the wing reach the ground (water), are reflected and have time to reach the wing. Thus, the pressure rise under the wing is large. The speed of propagation of the pressure wave is, of course, equal to the speed of sound. The center of pressure (common point of application of force) of the face effect is closer to the trailing edge, the center of pressure of the "normal" lift is closer to the leading edge, therefore, the greater the contribution of the screen to the total lift, the more the center of pressure is shifted back. This leads to balancing problems. A change in altitude changes the balance, a change in speed does too. Roll causes a diagonal displacement of the center of pressure. Therefore, the control of the ekranoplan requires specific skills.

Ekranoplane control differs from aircraft control and requires specific skills. Although the flight "on the screen" is associated with lower energy costs than an aircraft, however, the launch procedure requires a higher thrust-to-weight ratio comparable to that of a transport aircraft, and, accordingly, the use of additional starting engines that are not used in cruising mode (for large ekranoplanes), or special starting modes for the main engines, which leads to additional fuel consumption.

The operational-tactical plan of 903 Lun" differed in a number of advantages over any other means of delivery of anti-ship missiles (eg, low profile for ship radars due to a combination of high speed with a small movement to the height purpose). It is significant that the US military specialists this winged aptly called "killer of aircraft carriers."

In 1989 the missile launcher ekranoplane "Lun" (about 400 tons) was enlisted in the Navy. The ship was armed by three pairs of cruise missile 3M80 or 80M "Mosquito" (NATO's designation SS-N-22 Sunburn), though they were never deployed to fighting units. The design provided an effective method of performing a premptive strike against an enemy fleet. The ekranoplan is designed to combat surface ships by launching a missile strike in conditions of weak opposition from the enemys air attack weapons. The main objective of the missile carrier are aircraft carriers. The ekranoplan "Lun" due to the high speed and stealth for radar can float to the aircraft carriers at a distance of accurate rocket launch.

Eight NK-87 gas turbine engines helped it achieve flight. The power plant WIG Lun consists of eight turbofan engines NK-87 with a thrust of 13,000 kg each. They are located on the front pylon, immediately behind the cab. It allows developing great speed, compared to the Navy's ships, the speed of 500 km/h.

In operational and tactical terms, "Lun" has just a lot of advantages. It has higher efficiency and higher payload compared to aircraft. In terms of speed, combat and lifting characteristics, it surpasses hovercraft and hydrofoils. It was invisible to ship radars and, most importantly, was very tenacious.

However, the sailors did not accept the plane-ship. As the former deputy chief commander of the Navy, and before that the commander of the Black Sea Fleet, a participant in the ekranoplan tests, Admiral Igor Kasatonov said, for all the beauty of the "paper" characteristics, the ship turned out to be extremely ineffective. The limitations destroyed the main advantage - speed, and less important, the military economy. The admiral noted that it was still possible to "run" in the Caspian Sea, but on strategic communications, with intensive shipping, the "Lun" was simply dangerous. As a result, the project was closed.

LunRussian "roofer" [one who clambers on the roof-tops of Soviet ruins] and blogger Vitaliy Raskalov discovered a Soviet-made Lun ekranoplan stranded on the shore of the Caspian Sea in Dagestan, Russia. The ekranoplan lies on its belly on a wild beach and soaks water, because it had been damaged during transportation [to its current location]. I hope that the Lun ekranoplan, the only one of its kind, will remain intact and wont be destroyed by looters, wrote the blogger on his Instagram 21 September 2020.

The world's only ekranoplan will no longer rust in its eternal parking lot in Kaspiysk. On 28 July 2020 an operation began to move the unique and only in the world rocket ekranoplan project 903 "Lun" from Kaspiysk to Derbent, where he will become the main exhibit of the Patriot park under construction. According to the Ministry of Defense, in August 2020 the operation to transport the ekranoplan across the Caspian Sea would take 14 hours. The representative of the city administration said that no specific deadlines were set for the performers: "We have no time limits. Those whom we have hired for transportation and installation have the main task to have a result. People are doing their job." Initially, there were no difficulties with the transportation of unique military equipment. A representative of the agency, who was at the site, said that the ekranoplan is supported on the surface of the water by two inflatable pontoons and is gradually pulled up to the shore using a cable. Excavation work was required to bring the missile carrier ashore. The process itself is of great interest to the vacationers watching it.

Initially, it was planned that the Lun ekranoplan would be used as a showpiece at a future park, but the plans were revised since then and the wingship now rested unattended on the shore of the Caspian Sea, according to Raskalov who photographed the giant war machine. At least 19 years had passed since the withdrawal of the Lun from the Russian Navy, all this time it stood in the Caspian Sea on the territory of the FSB border base of the Russian Federation, and the government of Dagestan decided to move it and install it in the vicinity of Derbent. In June 2020 it was towed to the shores of Derbent. During transportation, the Lun gave a leak. The damaged ekranoplan was left on a wild beach, where, according to roofer and videographer Vitaly Raskalov, the car is gradually filled with water. Attempts to pull it out with the help of steel cables were unsuccessful, and the Patriot park has not yet been completed. Its opening is scheduled for 2022.

Project 903 Lun / Utka Ekranoplan Project 903 Lun / Utka Ekranoplan Project 903 Lun / Utka Ekranoplan Project 903 Lun / Utka Ekranoplan

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Page last modified: 13-09-2021 17:24:30 ZULU