Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

The BEAST is back: Russia to resurrect the ‘Ekranoplan’ to defend its position in the Arctic

The Soviet era’s enigmatic wing-in-ground-effect (WIG) “Ekranoplan” is set to make a comeback according to various Russian media reports.

Published

on

3,719 Views

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union considered building a fleet of missile-armed Lun-class wing-in-ground-effect vehicles, also known as the “Ekranoplan.”

Now, Russia says it has plans to revive this concept with a design tentatively known as “Orlan,” which could potentially offer the country a novel access and anti-access weapon in the increasingly contested Arctic region, as well as in more constrained waterways, such as the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.

Support The Duran – Browse our Shop >>

On July 30, 2018, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov announced that a combat-capable sea-skimming vehicle would be part of the State Armament Program for 2018-2027.

Since at least 2015, there have been reports that the Kremlin has been considering bringing back wing-in-ground-effect (WIG) designs, but primarily for transport and search and rescue duties.

“The [Orlan] prototype will be created as part of this armament program and it will carry missile armament,” Borisov said, according to Russian state outlet TASS. The deputy prime minister said that the vehicle would be able to help patrol Russia’s vast littoral regions, especially its maritime border along the Arctic and its claims in that region.

WIG designs are essentially a seaplane that flies very close to the surface of the water. In principle, the concept allows for an efficient, high-speed “water” craft that doesn’t suffer from the drag of actually sailing on the surface and from having a wing that can generate more significant lift.

The Soviets, and others who have experimented with these types of vehicles, looked into variants that could combine the Ekranoplan’s benefits with the ability to fly at higher altitudes.

A Soviet-era Project 904 Orlyonok Ekranoplan now on display.

Borisov did not offer any other specific details about the new Orlan and it’s not clear if this design will be in any way related to the Soviets’ Project 904 or “Orlyonok,” which means “eaglet” in Russian.

NATO had dubbed this craft, which has a maximum take-off weight of approximately 125 tons, as the “Orlan-class.” Of the five known examples, Russia scrapped two of them and turned the other three into non-functional monuments.

Still, in terms of its basic shape and performance, the established Orlyonok design might provide a good starting place for a new Ekranoplan missile craft.

It has a good payload capacity due to its original role as a transport and reportedly boasted a cruising speed of nearly 250 miles per hour over a range of more than 900 miles. The original type had a turret on top with a pair of 12.7mm machine guns and a simple navigational radar.

An old Soviet-era photo of one of the Orlan-class Ekranoplans, with the machine gun turret and mast-mounted radar visible at the front.

In order to arm the craft, Russian engineers could conceivably look to the larger Lun-class design and mount missile launchers on its upper spine of the fuselage on the existing Orlyonok.

The only Lun that the Soviets ever built, also known as MD-160, could carry six P-80 Zubr anti-ship cruise missiles, which NATO called the SS-N-22 Sunburn, in this configuration.

However, the existing Project 904 design features a large Kuznetsov NK-12MKturboprop engine, the same type found on Russia’s Tu-95 Bear bombers, at the top of the tail and firing missiles from the top of the craft might have some impact its function and, in turn, the ekranoplan’s performance.

The Orlan-class also had a pair of jet engines in the nose to propel the craft.

The Lun-class did not have a tail-mounted engine of any kind, using that space instead for a Puluchas search radar and other equipment. It’s hard to see where else missiles might easily go on the existing Orlyonok design, though engineers could potentially put them on top of its wings in water-tight canisters.

At the same time, it could be possible to position the launchers far enough forward for them not to have any negative effects on the NK-12. Similarly, a missile system semi-recessed in the fuselage that fires the weapons off to the sides instead could avoid the issue altogether.

The missiles Russia installs on the Ekranoplan might be small enough for it not to matter one way or another. Compared to the P-80, more recent Russian anti-ship missiles have become light and compact enough to make using a smaller Ekranoplan such as the Orlyonok feasible as a launch platform in the first place.

There are other designs that would fit Deputy Prime Minister Borisov’s basic description for the new Orlan, too. The 737-sized A-050 Chaika, or “Seagull,” is supposed to begin flight testing in 2022 and could serve as the basis for a missile-armed type. The firm responsible for this design, Alexeev’s Hydrofoil Design Bureau, has a number of other types that might work, as well.

An artist’s conception of the A-050 Seagull.

Borisov did not specify any particular type or manufacturer and did not say specifically what kind of weapons the new Orlan might carry, either. He did note, however, that it would be used to fill in for more traditional defenses in the sparsely populated Arcticaccording to TASS, but the most likely armament would be some type of anti-ship cruise missiles.

The deputy prime minister also noted the craft’s potential value in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea and the Kremlin could also potentially deploy them to the highly strategic Baltic Sea.

In a maritime patrol role, an Ekranoplan carrying a load of supersonic P-800 Oniks anti-ship cruise missiles could challenge the ability of potential opponents to move freely through a certain area or engage them rapidly during an actual skirmish.

The high speed of the vehicles combined with that missile’s over-the-horizon range could allow the crew to quickly get into position on short notice or readily move to another area to respond to the changing nature of the threat.

Multiple missile-armed WIGs might be able to threaten enemy surface ships from multiple directions, as well, limiting their ability to make the most of their defensive capabilities.

At the same time, Orlan’s low-altitude flight path and speed might make it harder to detect and engage, as well. Ekranoplans already have the benefit of being effectively impervious to torpedoes and naval mines.

The video below shows Russian land-based launchers firing P-800s during an exercise:

The ability to operate far from and independently of traditional naval and air bases would only make the vehicles more flexible operationally. This might give Russian Ekranoplan units equal ability to gain access to certain areas and deny opponents the ability to operate in those spaces.

Depending on how common the missile-armed variant is to other proposed transport types, the combat-capable versions might be able to serve as escorts for the others into hostile territory. The could give Russia the ability to rapidly deploy forces on sea and land into specific areas during a conflict.

It would likely take relatively little effort to turn a defensive missile armed Orlan into an offensive weapon armed with land-attack cruise missiles, such as Kalibr, to actively threaten enemy shore-based defenses and sites further inland, especially in the close-quarters environment of the Baltic Sea or the Black Sea.

Russia has also demonstrated that the P-800 has a limited land-attack capability itself, which could give the ekranoplans some multi-purpose functionality without necessarily needing to carry more than one type of weapon.

But, regardless, how viable a surface-skimming missile craft might actually be remains to be seen.

Ekranoplans have historically proven to be complicated to operate and maintenance intensive in general, with the Project 904 types reportedly suffering from serious corrosion issues, according to a 1993 edition of Combat Fleets of the World. That year the then recently independent Russia decided to retire the remaining Orlyonoks from active service.

The state of one of the three surviving Orlan Ekranoplans, on display near a Moscow airport.

Beyond that, it’s also unclear how committed Russia is to this project or whether it might end up shelved in favor of other defense priorities. The county has continually pushed back projects to build larger traditional ships in order to free up funding for other, high-profile programs, including a host of nuclear-armed strategic weapons developments.

Still, with the existing experience with the Lun and Orlan-classes, together with modern improvements in engine and airframe technology, the Russians may see Ekranoplans as a relatively low-risk and cost-effective investment. The country has already been spending a not insignificant amount of time and resources on systems specifically to support its Arctic operations, as well.

The Kremlin has said it wants to begin flight tests of cargo-carrying and search and rescue types by 2022 or 2023. The armed versions could easily follow afterward or go into development at the same time as a variant of those designs.

We will definitely be keeping our eyes open for the possible reappearance of missile-toting Russian Ekranoplans in the Arctic or elsewhere.

Via The Drive

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
5 Comments

5
Leave a Reply

avatar
5 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
5 Comment authors
Logantiredofthemedialiestibetan cowboycolumSilviu Popescu Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Logan
Guest
Logan

A fair weather plane, there are unbelievable low tech ways to bring it down. Better used as a transport only.

tiredofthemedialies
Guest
tiredofthemedialies

Ekranoplan couldn’t clear ice floes, because the wing in ground effect (WIG) is limited. Similarly it has problems with high waves. The only way to overcome the cruising height problem (around 2 metres in existing Ekranoplans) is to build a much bigger wing surface.

tibetan cowboy
Guest
tibetan cowboy

Beautifully shaped aircraft they are. Credits to the Russian innovations in weaponry and technology, constantly showing us that the USA lost the arms race to Russia, and China too as it turns out. China already has deployed smaller, ocean – skimming cruise missiles that are nearly impossible to detect or shoot down. The Chinese are also very smart in that theirs are small but deadly because they can be launched in great masses targeting any ship. In these multiple layered assaults, the USA Navy has no defense – too many incoming targets for which no defense exists, except maybe get-lucky… Read more »

colum
Guest
colum

How did I miss this report. A sleeping giant is stirring.

Silviu Popescu
Guest

After I shared this article on FB, it deleted the post for next reason: SPAM

Is it normal?

Latest

It’s Back to the Iran-Contra Days Under Trump

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela.

Strategic Culture Foundation

Published

on

Authored by Wayne Madsen, via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Showing that he is adopting the neoconservative playbook every day he remains in office, Donald Trump handed the neocons a major win when he appointed Iran-contra scandal felon Elliott Abrams as his special envoy on Venezuela. Abrams pleaded guilty in 1991 to two counts of withholding information on the secret sale of US weapons for cash to help illegally supply weapons to the Nicaraguan right-wing contras, who were battling against the government of President Daniel Ortega. Abrams would have headed to a federal prison, but President George H. W. Bush, an unindicted co-conspirator in the scandal, issued pardons to Abrams and his five fellow conspirators – former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, former National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, and former Central Intelligence Agency officials Alan Fiers, Duane “Dewey” Clarridge, and Clair George – on Christmas Eve 1991, during the final weeks of Bush’s lame duck administration.

Abrams escaped being charged with more serious crimes by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh because he cut a last-minute deal with federal prosecutors. Trump, who has made no secret of his disdain for cooperating federal witnesses, would have normally called Abrams a “rat,” a gangster term meaning informant. The man who helped engineer the pardons for Abrams and his five convicted friends was none other than Bush’s Attorney General, William Barr, who has just been sworn in as Trump’s Attorney General. Trump, who is always decrying the presence of the “deep state” that thwarts his very move, has become the chief guardian of that entity.

During a recent hearing of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, newly-minted congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, reminded her colleagues and the world about the sordid background of Abrams.

Omar zeroed in on Abrams’s criminal history:

“Mr. Abrams, in 1991 you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush. I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony you give today to be truthful.”

Abrams, as is the nature of neocons, refused to respond to Omar and cited her comments as “personal attacks.”

Abrams’s and his fellow criminals’ use of mercenaries and “death squads” to conduct secret wars in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala during the Ronald Reagan administration in the 1980s has made a re-entrance under Trump. Abrams was brought on board by neocons like National Security Adviser John Bolton, Vice President Mike Pence, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to oversee a US military build-up in Colombia, said to be 5000 US troops, to support Venezuelan paramilitary and military efforts to topple President Nicolas Maduro. Abrams and Bolton are also believed to have retained the services of another unindicted conspirator in the Iran-contra affair, Michael Ledeen, a colleague of the disgraced and convicted former Trump National Security Adviser, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. Ledeen and Flynn co-authored a book titled, “The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and its Allies.” The book contains nothing more than the standard neocon tripe one might expect from the likes of Ledeen.

An official investigation of the Iran-contra scandal by the late Republican Senator John Tower of Texas concluded that Abrams’s and Ledeen’s friend, Iranian-Jewish middleman Manucher Ghorbanifar, a long-time Mossad asset and well-known prevaricator, was extremely instrumental in establishing the back-channel arms deals with Iran. Ghorbanifar has long been on the CIA “burn list” as an untrustworthy charlatan, along with others in the Middle East of similar sketchy credentials, including the Iraq’s Ahmad Chalabi, Syria’s Farid “Frank” Ghadry, and Lebanon’s Samir “Sami” Geagea. These individuals, however, were warmly embraced by neocons like Abrams and his associates.

Abrams, whose links with Israeli intelligence has always been a point of consternation with US counter-intelligence officials, is part of an old cabal of right-wing anti-Soviet Democrats who coalesced around Senator Henry Jackson in the 1970s. Along with Abrams, this group of war hawks included Richard Perle, Frank Gaffney, William Kristol, Douglas Feith, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Abram Shulsky, and Paul Wolfowitz. Later, this group would have its fingerprints on major US foreign policy debacles, ranging from Nicaragua and Grenada to Lebanon, Iraq, and Libya. Later, in December 2000, these neocons managed to convince president-elect George W. Bush of the need to “democratize” the Middle East. That policy would later bring not democracy but disaster to the Arab Middle East and North Africa.

Abrams and his cronies will not stop with Venezuela. They have old scores to settle with Nicaraguan President Ortega. The initiation of “regime change” operations in Nicaragua, supported by the CIA and the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami, have been ongoing for more than a year.

The Trump administration has already achieved a regime change victory of sorts in El Salvador. Nayib Bukele, the former mayor of San Salvador, who was expelled from the formerly-ruling left-wing Farabundo Marti National Liberation (FMLN) party and joined the right-wing GANA party, was recently elected president of El Salvador. Bukele has quickly re-aligned his country’s policies with those of the Trump administration. Bukele has referred to President Maduro of Venezuela as a “dictator.” He has also criticized the former FMLN government’s recognition of China and severance of diplomatic ties with Taiwan. It will be interesting to see how a sycophant like Bukele will politically survive as Trump continues to call hapless asylum-seeking migrants from his country, who seek residency in the United States, “rapists, gang monsters, murderers, and drug smugglers.”

Another country heading for a US-installed “banana republic” dictator is Haiti. President Jovenal Moise has seen rioting in the streets of Port-au-Prince as the US State Department removed all “non-essential” personnel from the country. Moise, whose country has received $2 billion in oil relief from Venezuela, to help offset rising fuel prices, has continued to support the Maduro government. However, at the US-run and neo-colonial artifice, the Organization of American States (OAS), Moise’s envoys have been under tremendous pressure to cut ties with Venezuela and recognize the US puppet Juan Guaido as Venezuelan president. Moise’s refusal to do so resulted in armed gangs hitting the streets of Port-au-Prince demanding Moise’s resignation. It is the same neocon “regime change” playbook being used in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

There will be similar attempts to replace pro-Maduro governments in his remaining allies in the region. These include Suriname, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Abrams was also brought in as an adviser on Middle East policy in the George W. Bush administration. The carnage of Iraq is a stark testament to his record. In 2005, it was reported that two key Bush White House officials – Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliot Abrams – gave a “wink and a nod” for the assassinations by Israeli-paid operatives of three key Lebanese political figures seeking a rapprochement with Syria and Lebanese Hezbollah – Member of Parliament Elie Hobeika, former Lebanese Communist Party chief George Hawi, and former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

In 2008, a United Nations panel headed by former Canadian prosecutor Daniel Bellemare later concluded Hariri was assassinated by a “criminal network” and not by either Syrian and Lebanese intelligence or Lebanese Hezbollah as proffered by Abrams and his friends in Washington.

Representative Omar was spot on in questioning why Abrams, whose name is as disgraced as his two fellow conspirators – Oliver North and John Poindexter – whose criminal convictions were overturned on appeal, is working for the Trump administration on Venezuela. The answer is that the neocons, who can sense, like raptors, Trump’s political weakness, have filled the vacuum left by top-level vacancies in the administration.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Putin: If mid-range missiles deployed in Europe, Russia will station arms to strike decision centers

Putin: If US deploys mid-range missiles in Europe, Russia will be forced to respond.

RT

Published

on

By

Via RT…


If the US deploys intermediate-range missiles in Europe, Moscow will respond by stationing weapons aimed not only against missiles themselves, but also at command and control centers, from which a launch order would come.

The warning came from President Vladimir Putin, who announced Russia’s planned actions after the US withdraws from the INF Treaty – a Cold War-era agreement between Washington and Moscow which banned both sides form having ground-based cruise and ballistic missiles and developing relevant technology.

The US is set to unilaterally withdraw from the treaty in six months, which opens the possibility of once again deploying these missiles in Europe. Russia would see that as a major threat and respond with its own deployments, Putin said.

Intermediate-range missiles were banned and removed from Europe because they would leave a very short window of opportunity for the other side to decide whether to fire in retaliation after detecting a launch – mere minutes. This poses the threat of an accidental nuclear exchange triggered by a false launch warning, with the officer in charge having no time to double check.

“Russia will be forced to create and deploy weapon systems, which can be used not only against the territories from which this direct threat would be projected, but also against those territories where decision centers are located, from which an order to use those weapons against us may come.” The Russian president, who was delivering a keynote address to the Russian parliament on Wednesday, did not elaborate on whether any counter-deployment would only target US command-and-control sites in Europe or would also include targets on American soil.

He did say the Russian weapon system in terms of flight times and other specifications would “correspond” to those targeting Russia.

“We know how to do it and we will implement those plans without a delay once the relevant threats against us materialize,”he said.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Labour MP split is a cheap and final ploy to derail BREXIT (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 179.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss a small group of UK Labour MPs decision to quit the party and sit as Independent MPs in the house of commons.

Their excuse for leaving Labour was directed at leader Jeremy Corbyn for presiding over an “institutionally anti-Semitic” party. The real reason they are leaving Labour is because they are staunch remain MPs and are hoping to derail Brexit.

The seven Labour MPs quitting the party to become ‘The Independent Group’, are Chuka Umunna, Luciana Berger, Chris Leslie, Angela Smith, Mike Gapes, Gavin Shuker and Ann Coffey.

RT reports that Luciana Berger, the MP for Liverpool Wavertree took to the stage first, to claim that she could not stay in the party any more because it had become “institutionally anti-Semitic.”

Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham, a prominent ‘People’s Vote’ advocate appealed to all MPs, not just Labour, to join their group, as the current parties are part of the problem, not the solution.

He argued that “It is time we dumped this country’s old fashioned politics.” Umunna claimed the UK needed a political party “fit for the hear and now” and the “first step in leaving the tribal politics behind.”

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via RT

Twitter has been rocked by the sudden departure of seven Labour MPs to form their own Independent Group, with party supporters feverishly debating whether the move is better for the party, or a wake-up call to Jeremy Corbyn.

Former shadow cabinet minister Chuka Umunna along with MPs Luciana Berger, Gavin Shuker, Angela Smith, Chris Leslie, Mike Gapes and Ann Coffey have all jumped ship in the biggest Labour Party split since 1981, when the so-called “gang of four” left to form the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

In a press conference, Umunna stated that the established parties “cannot be the change because they have become the problem” arguing that it is “time we dumped this country’s old-fashioned politics.”

Jewish MP Luciana Berger said she was “embarrassed and ashamed” at what the Labour Party had become and criticized her former party for becoming “sickeningly institutionally racist.”

“I am leaving behind a culture of bullying, bigotry and intimidation. I look forward to a future serving with colleagues who respect each other,” she added.

Reaction to the news online has been a mixture of shock and dismay, to outright derision. Some Labour supporters were quick to delight in the departures, suggesting the party will be stronger without detractors undermining it from within.

Others though said it was time for Jeremy Corbyn to take the criticism seriously.

Meanwhile, some Twitter users commented on Young Labour’s somewhat barbed response to the situation.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending