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Donetsk ('Pomornik'/Zubr) Class
Project 1206.1, Murena - Large Air Cushion Landing Craft

Zubr class is the world’s largest air cushion craft. The vessel has been built at two locations: Almaz Shipbuilding JSC of Saint Petersburg, Russia Federal, and Feodosia Shipbuilding association "Morye" of Ukraine. Development of Zubr landing ships started in the former Soviet Union in 1978, and the first serial ship joined the Soviet navy in 1988. Large hovercraft landing/assault craft; can carry mines instead of cargo. Apparently suffer major reliability problems. Designed for loading naval landing troops and equipment, personnel from equipped or non equipped shore, their transportation by sea, landing on non equipped coast and fire support.

The Zubr-class LCAC is a class of air-cushioned landing craft of Ukrainian design. This class of military hovercraft is the world's largest hovercraft. It is designed to sealift landing assault units from equipped/non-equipped vessels to non-equipped shores, as well as to transport and plant mines. The mission of the Zubr class is to carry out rapid sealift and beach landing of assault troops and combat material on territory held by hostile forces. The ships also provides strong fire support for the troop operations on shore. Each vessel can carry up to 130t of cargo: three main battle tanks (MBT) such as T-72, or eight BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles (IFV), or ten BTR-70 wheeled armoured personnel carriers (APC), or 360 fully equipped amphibious landing troops. The ship has a bow and a stern ramp for fast landing of troops and combat material.

Powered by the high temperature gas turbine, the Zubr has a top speed of 60 knots. The ship is equipped with two stabilised multiple rocket launchers (MRL), four Igla-1M portable air defence missile systems, and two AK-630 six-barrel 30mm close-in weapon systems (CIWS), which provide defence against manned and unmanned air attack, including incoming sea-skimming anti-ship missiles, small sea targets, lightly armored coastal targets and floating mines.

It has the carrying capacity for 3 main battle tanks with an overall mass of 150 tons or 10 armored personnel carriers weighing up to 131 tons plus 140 marines, or 8 infantry fighting vehicles with mass of up to 115 tons. If not equipped with armor, Zubr is capable of carrying 366 men. First two were completed for Ukraine; others ex-Russian. Presently, the Ukrainian Navy had in the inventory four landing hovercraft Zubr.

The state-owned military equipment export-import company UkrSpetsExport signed a $100-mn contract with the Greek Defense Department for the supply to Greece of two landing hovercraft Zubr, a company official told CACDS. According to the source, the craft will be built at Feodisia's shipyard More ('sea'), at which mass production of the ships was organized way back in Soviet days. Two more equivalent craft will be supplied to Greece by Russia's RosVooruzheniye arms trading company, the source said. On top of that, Greece may purchase 250 tanks from Ukraine. Military-technological cooperation stepped up between Ukraine and Greece following last September's official visit to Ukraine by Greek Defense Minister Apostolous Tsohadzopulous, in whose course a bilateral agreement on cooperation in military technology was signed. The hovercraft to be supplied to Greece are capable of carrying 500 fully armed marines. The ships will supposedly be armed with rocket volley fire systems Uragan.

In 2006, the PRC was reported to have approached Russia and Ukraine to discuss possible acquisition of 6~8 Project 1232.2 (Zubr class) large air cushion landing crafts. The negotiation has been progressing very slowly, with no order actually placed for sevveral years. The PRC had also been reportedly negotiating with Ukraine to import the technology of the M-70 gas turbine used on the Zubr class in order to develop its own air cushion landing craft design.

After a month long sea journey, an air-cushioned landing craft, Zubr-class LCAC built for the Chinese navy was delivered at Guangzhou, the capital city of south China's Guangzhou Province 24 May 2013. China's first Zubr LCAC hovercraft was built at the Feodosiya Shipbuilding Company in the Ukraine and adapted to Chinese needs so that no military weapons and electrical systems were installed. Construction of a second hovercraft is ongoing for the Chinese navy, which has placed an order for four craft at a reported cost of 315 million US dollars. Two are being built by the Feodosiya Shipbuilding Company, and a second pair of vessels will be built in China under the supervision of Ukrainian technicians.

The Zubr will greatly enhance the PLA Navy’s capability to launch a large scale amphibious assault operation. At the moment the PLA has to rely on conventional landing ships for such an operation. The slow process for the troops and vehicles to swim from their carrier ships to the beachhead makes them highly vulnerable to enemy firepower. The LCAC’s ability to deliver troops, vehicles and cargos directly to the beach makes a huge advantage. China has developed several models of its own indigenous LCAC, but most of these are unarmed small designs carrying no more than 20 soldiers.

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Page last modified: 30-10-2017 10:47:02 ZULU