One of world's most unique planes bigger than Boeing 747 lays abandoned on beach
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One of the most unique planes in the world - which back in the day sent a shiver down the CIA's spine - has now been abandoned on a beach.
As one of the most unusual planes in the world, the 'Caspian sea monster' might become a tourist spot at some point.
The plane is certainly unusual looking - in fact, it technically isn't even a plane.
This hybrid boat-aircraft Russian MD-160 was designed in 1975 and was actually used by the Soviet and Russian navies from 1987 during the latter stages of the Cold War as part of the wing-in-ground-effect (WIG) programme.
Though, it was soon retired in the late 90s, when the huge plane was left to sit at the unused Kaspiysk naval base.
After a couple of decades, it was finally pulled out of storage and in 2020, it towed across the Caspian Sea in a 14-hour journey from the naval base to Derbent, Dagestan in a bid to transform it into a tourist attraction.
The bigger than a jumbo 63ft aircraft was supposed to go on display at the Patriot Park, but it has yet to leave the sandy dune.
This Lun-class ekranoplan model - the only one ever constructed - is a 'ground effect' category craft which makes it a classified maritime ship, according to the International Maritime Organization.
This is because it was designed to attain a sustained flight over a level surface - the sea – by using the aerodynamic interaction between the wings and the surface.
The Russian plane did this by using a cushion of air beneath its wings to speed above the sea's surface at 13ft.
Essentially, it’s like a flying ship.
As it was the only model ever completed and had the ability to carry supersonic missiles, it would be a rare tourist spot indeed.
But how do we know so much about it?
Because of its unique qualities, US intelligence authorities did some digging about uncovered a secret document that detailed the roles of the WIGs.
They found out that the MD-160 was made 'to fly at speeds of 200 to 250 knots at about 5 to 10 meters above the water's surface'.
CIA officials added: "The Utka class WIG is a tactical strike and coastal defence vehicle for the Soviet Navy. It carries six supersonic SS-N-22 anti-ship cruise missiles.
"The Utka, can engage enemy ships out to its radar horizon (about 35 kilometers/22 miles) but can fire the SS-N-22 out to the missile's 100-kilometer (62-mile) range with over-the-horizon targeting data.
"The Utka is larger than a US Boeing 747 jet airplane and flies at about 250 knots. One Utka has been built.
"We believe that an Utka strike force or coastal defense force would give the Soviets a quick-reaction capability against surface combatants.
"However, unless the Utka can pop up out of ground effect to extend its radar horizon, it will require external sources of targeting information."
Though there has still been no progress in confirming what will happen to the craft, it’s safe to say that it should be on every traveller’s bucket list to visit.