1987 was the year when the first 350 tons ground effect “ship” from the series of Soviet battle missile carriers was produced. It was called Lun after the Russian name for a bird of prey – hen harrier. Another name for this vehicle was Project 903. It carried 6 Moskit cruise missiles (SS-N-22 Sunburn in NATO classification). Hitting four of them causes inevitable sinking of a vessel of any know type and size. The second Lun-class battle aircraft was supposed to be produced in several years but due to the end of cold war and partial disarmament the project was changed to a rescue aircraft and it was never finished.
This type of vehicle called in Russian ekranoplan uses so called ground effect – extra lift of large wings when in proximity to the surface. For this reason they have beenÂ designed to travel at a maximum of three meters above the sea but at the same time could provide take off, stable “flight” and safe “landing” in conditions of up to 5-meter waves. These crafts were originally developed by the Soviet Union as high-speed military transports, and were based mostly on the shores of the Caspian Sea and Black Sea. In 2005 crafts of this type have been classified by the International Marine Organization so they probably should be considered flying ships rather than swimming planes.Â It is also interesting to note that this aircraft is one of the largest ever built, with a length of 73,8 meters (comparing with 73 of Airbus A380).