The Russian government has decommissioned the only completed Project 903 Lun class ekranoplan in existence, with plans to put it on display.
The plane, called MD-160, is a wing-in-ground-effect craft, a type of plane meant to fly over flat surfaces like water, ice, or plains. They are sometimes known as “flying boats” for how they’re able to smoothly glide over water.
In July, MD-160 was transported across the Caspian Sea from the city of Kaspiysk to Patriot Park in the city of Derbent. Both cities are located in Dagestan, a semi-autonomous republic under Russian control. The plane had been kept at the Russian navy’s Kaspiysk base since it was withdrawn from service in the late 1990s. It has since fallen into disrepair and is currently non-operational, so the impressive machine made its journey via tug boat.
Built from 1986-1991 at a plant along the Volga River, MD-160 was one of the Soviet Union’s last mighty military constructions. It was intended to be one of eight ekranoplans, but the construction of the other models was canceled due to the economic turmoil that came with the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. In 2018, rumors circulated that Russia might again fund an ekranoplan class, but there’s been no word since.
This model was created to execute high-speed attacks on enemy warships, but it didn’t get much active military use in its lifetime. Though it likely won’t fly again, MD-160 can now teach spectators about Cold War-era military technology and history.
Image from Wikimedia