One of the most unusual aircraft on the planet, called the Caspian Sea Monster, lies abandoned on a beach and will soon become a tourist attraction…
The Russian aircraft MD-160 looks like something out of Star Wars, it was designed in 1975 and used by the Soviet and Russian navy during 1987 and the later stages of the Cold War as part of its 'wing-in-ground' program. However, after retiring this strange bird, heavily armed and larger than a jumbo jet in the late 1990s, it was left to rot out of use in the Caspian Sea naval base.
So this giant stood until 2020 when it was resurrected and towed across the Caspian Sea, where after a fourteen-hour journey from the base, it arrived in Derbent, where plans were developed to transform it into a tourist attraction. The incredible aircraft, 73.8 meters long, with a wing span of 44 meters and a height of almost twenty meters, will be exhibited in the Park of Patriots in the Russian semi-autonomous republic of Dagestan.
Due to its strange appearance, it is not possible to say exactly whether the Caspian Sea Monster is a plane or a boat because, despite its plane-like appearance, this Lun-class ekranoplan technically falls under the category of ground-effect vehicle, which is a category with special technology that the International Maritime Organization classifies as a marine vessel.
This ground-effect vehicle is designed to achieve sustained flight above the surface of the water, using the aerodynamic interaction between its wings and the surface. The MD-160 uses air cushions that form below its wings to move at speeds of up to 500 km/h above the water at a height of more than four meters, which essentially makes this aircraft something that can be described as a flying boat and a very difficult target to detect by the enemy.
The MD-160 was the only model of its kind that was completed and equipped with supersonic missiles for destroying aircraft carriers. Therefore, it is not surprising that American intelligence services dug deeply to find out more about this vehicle, which led to the discovery of a secret document that details the roles of such machines. This document included design details, with claims that the MD-160 was created to fly at speeds of 200 to 250 knots at a height of five to ten meters above the water's surface.