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The World => Weird and Extreme => Topic started by: slackware on July 12, 2007, 11:52:57 PM

Title: The Strange Airplane That Flies Undetectable 1 Meter Above Water, Ice and Groun
Post by: slackware on July 12, 2007, 11:52:57 PM
The Ekranoplan, flying just above the water

The Strange Airplane That Flies Undetectable 1 Meter Above Water, Ice and Ground - The weirdest undetectable aircraft
By: Lucian Dorneanu - Softpedia

It's not a hovercraft and it could never be a true plane. Developed during the Cold War by the former Soviet Union, the Ekranoplan is one of the weirdest flying machines designed by man. It was also undetectable by radar even without using the stealth technologies of present time.

This is a really strange aircraft, as it practically
doesn't fly, it operates only on the principle of ground effect for lift. That's why it doesn't require huge wings or lightweight frame and it's able to carry up to 100 tonnes of cargo, among the largest lifting capabilities ever achieved.

Developed by the communist regime as very high-speed military transports, the largest of these planes were over 100 m long (330 ft), weighed 540 tonnes fully loaded and could travel over 400 km/h (250 mi/h).

The really interesting part about it is the fact that it could travel at only a meter or so above the surface of the water or any other plane surface, like ice or even ground, thanks to the ground effect mentioned above.

Ground effect, specifically the Wing in Ground effect is a drastic reduction of the drag an aircraft experiences while flying at an altitude of only twice the length of its the wingspan. In fact, as it drops to half that distance from the surface, the effect dramatically increases, thus contributing to the lifting force.

This increases the general performance of the aircraft, like speed, fuel consumption and effective payload but presents a major risk for unexperienced pilots, especially during night flights or other covert missions.

Another major advantage of this design is the fact that the Caspian Sea Monster - this is how it was referred to by US intelligence agents who saw it - is untraceable by radar, which cannot detect objects at low altitudes.

Around 120 of them were built before the end of the Cold War and were assigned to patrol and carrier missions in the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, as they could easily transport two medium-sized tanks for each trip or a squadron of soldiers, which could be rapidly deployed and extracted.
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