A unique, giant Cold War-era Lun-class ekranoplan Caspian Sea Monster warplane found washed up on the beach.
After lying dormant for more than three decades, the Caspian Sea Monster has been on the move again. One of the most eye-catching flying machines ever built, it’s completing what could be its final journey.
The plane has been spotted – and spectacularly filmed from above by drone – on a sandy beach in Russia’s Dagestan republic, where a military theme park is set to be built.
Footage captured by the Ruptly video agency shows the bizarre-looking ekranoplan lying on the shore of the Caspian Sea near the Dagestan city of Derbent.
The 400-ton vehicle looks pretty much like an aircraft because of its wings and turbofan engines, but it was actually a maritime vessel armed with supersonic missiles.
The hull of the ship looks to be intact, but the paint is a little faded and some metal parts are affected by rust.
The ekranoplan was previously towed from the Russian Navy’s Kaspiysk base to Derbent, where the military-themed Patriot Park is set for construction.
The condition of the unique but disused vehicle – and the setting of a lifeless beach – gave rise to rumors that it had simply been abandoned.
However, a couple of excavators and trucks can be seen in the background, indicating that some construction works are underway.
Officially given the callsign MD-160, the Cold War-era machine was the only Lun-class ground effect vehicle ever completed during the period.
The ekranoplan – which used the lift generated by the ground effect of its wings to fly several meters above the water – was designed to strike surface targets. It stood out due to its high speed of up to 297 knots (550kph) and low visibility to radars.
The technological marvel briefly served the Navy in the late 1980s but was retired and signed off a decade later due to a shortage of funding.
No longer able to fly, the MD-160 remained stored at Kaspiysk before the Russian military decided to share it with the public at Patriot Park.
The Soviet Union went beyond other nations in building a workable large-size ekranoplan vehicle powered by turbofan engines.
Other countries like Germany and the US have designed smaller-size craft of the type, but they were all passenger-carrying or experimental.
The MD-160 was the successor to the KM vehicle, which was developed in the mid-1960s as part of the Soviet ekranoplan program.
Western intelligence services branded the experimental warship as the ‘Caspian Sea Monster,’ while ‘KM’ actually stood for ‘korabl-maket,’ or ‘prototype ship’ in Russian.