Lun (Ekranoplan) Ground Effect Flying Boat / Anti-Ship Warfare Aircraft
The massive Lun Ekranoplan was one of the most unique aircraft designs of the Cold War years - it remains available to the modern Russian fleet.
Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
One of the more interesting of the Cold War aircraft developments became the massive Soviet Lun Ekranoplan (NATO codename of "Duck"), a flying boat of sorts designed around the use of turbojet propulsion, ground effect physics and a boat-like airframe hull. The design intent was a sea-skimming transport vehicle for the Soviet Navy armed with anti-ship missiles and cannon to counter the threat of Western surface fleet interference. The Lun entered service in 1987 - just prior to the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1991 - and was built in just one production-quality example as the "MD-160". The MD-160 began operational service with the Black Sea Fleet with its design attributed to engineer Rostislav Evgenievich Alexseev.
Ground effect allowed designers to utilize the inherent reaction of a winged airframe with the naturally occurring forces found near the surface of the earth. In effect, the aircraft was designed to skin the surface as if a hovercraft, though achieving greater altitudes. Ground effect allows an aircraft to utilize lower lift-dependent drag and, theoretically, provide greater efficiency in its forward momentum. The Lun Ekranoplan became an excellent example of this achievable principle though its kind has yet to find widespread use.
Externally, the Lun was a mix of boat and aircraft, showcasing a very bow-like fuselage with straight, mid-mounted wing appendages (capped by pontoons), a single vertical tail fin mounting a pair of swept-back horizontal planes in a "T" style arrangement and a forward-set flight deck. No fewer than 8 x Kuznetsov NK-87 series turbojet engines were fitted, these along the forward section of the fuselage just aft of the cockpit, and set as two groups of four engines each. As such, the engines could cleanly aspirate from the front in the usual manner and exhaust aft, over the main wing assemblies. The engine arrangement netted a thrust output of 28,000lbs each, propelling the Lun at speeds equaling 342 miles per hour over water. Operational range was 1,200 miles (1,000 nautical miles) with the vehicle crewed by fifteen including six officers. The Lun was designed to haul up to 220,000lbs to 300,000lbs of goods in its deep boat-like hull. The nose housed a Puluchas search radar suite.