On the existence of the next domestic project of an airplane has become known 30 July. The vice-premier Yury Borisov, responsible for the military-industrial complex, told the press about him. According to Yu. Borisov, in the new State Armaments Program, designed for 2018-2027 years, there is an experimental design work on the creation of a promising WIG. The project has a working designation "Orlan". The program provides for the development of the project and the subsequent construction of a prototype.
Impact ekranoplan "Lun" during the test. Photo Militaryrussia.ru
Unlike other ekranoplans, the development of which was announced in the recent past, the Orlan will be a military vehicle. It is supposed to equip with rocket armament, the type of which, however, was not specified. An ekranoplan will be able to patrol, attack various targets or participate in rescue operations.
Y. Borisov named the possible work areas of the future Orlan. He noted that the Russian infrastructure on the Northern Sea Route is not very developed and needs to be protected. Perspective ekranoplan can patrol in those areas and protect them from possible threats. In addition, the possibility of work of the Orlan in the Black or Caspian seas is not excluded.
What organization is entrusted with the development of "Orlan" - was not specified. There is every reason to believe that the project is being created in the Central Design Bureau for hydrofoil vessels. R.A. Alekseeva. It was this organization that was the first in our country to take up the subject of WIG and created most of the projects. For several decades of work in this area, the Central Clinical Hospital on SEC has managed to accumulate substantial experience that can be applied in modern projects.
Also interesting projects of similar technology were available at the Taganrog Aviation Scientific and Technical Complex named after Gm Beriev. For example, the Be-2500 project provides for the construction of an EKOL mass of about 2,5 thousand tons. Such a device, according to calculations, could carry out a high-speed flight at a minimum height and, if necessary, rise higher. The payload was determined in 1 thousand tons. The maximum range was declared at the level of 16 thousand km, which would allow to fly along the entire Northern Sea Route.
Officially announced data on the Orlan project are not particularly detailed at this time, but they do provide an overall picture. In addition, they bring to mind one of the old projects of technology for a similar purpose. A few decades ago, in our country, a military ekranoplan was created with rocket armament; This sample was called "Lun". There is reason to believe that the newest project "Orlan" will be to some extent similar to its predecessor, and their main differences will be associated with the use of modern technologies.
However, it is not at all necessary that the new Orlan will repeat the previous pattern even in the most basic aspects. Experimental "Lun" was distinguished by outstanding dimensions and weight, and in addition, it had to be equipped with eight engines at once. One of the reasons for this was the technical features of the onboard weapon system. An ekranoplan carried six launchers for Moskit anti-ship missiles at once. These devices were located on the upper surface of the fuselage and were installed one after another. It is possible that a different arrangement of units and the use of smaller missiles can reduce the size and take-off weight of the machine, without adversely affecting the speed and other characteristics.
Any information about the technical appearance and exterior of the new "Orlan" has not yet been announced. However, the statements of the Deputy Prime Minister and the well-known information about the previous domestic ekranoplans can be the basis for some assessments. Most likely, the project will offer the construction of the apparatus, most similar to the aircraft, but having some characteristic features. One should expect the construction of a nizkoplan with a small elongation wing, equipped with several turbojet engines. The tail plumage should be built on a T-shaped pattern. To improve the technical and operational characteristics, modern materials and technologies should be applied.
General view of the multipurpose ground-effect A-080-752. Figure CDB SEC them. Alekseeva / ckbspk.ru
Previous domestic ekranoplans, including those with a large mass, could reach speeds of up to 450-500 km / h due to the powerful propulsion system. Prospective "Orlan" may have similar characteristics. Some Soviet and Russian projects provided for the possibility of flying not only at a minimum height using the screen effect, but also lifting with a horizontal flight “in an airplane” manner. Whether such opportunities will receive a promising model is unknown.
It is alleged that "Orlan" will conduct patrols in the Northern Sea Route and ensure its protection against various threats. If we take into account the nature of the latter, then we can imagine what kind of weapons will need an ekranoplan. First of all, he needs anti-ship missiles with high performance. In this capacity, existing P-800 "Onyx" products can be used. It is also impossible to exclude the possibility of using the complex "Caliber" in the version for surface ships. With the help of such a complex, the Orlan could attack ground or underwater targets.
The “Onyx” and “Caliber” missiles differ from the older “Mosquitoes” in smaller dimensions, however, they retain rather large sizes. However, in their case, the layout issues remain quite complicated. The experienced Lun carried launchers for six rockets on the fuselage roof, which not only gave it a distinctive appearance, but also worsened its aerodynamics in a certain way. The optimal solution to the problem would be to place weapons inside the machine, without using large external units.
What missiles the Orlan will receive and how they will be placed on the car will be known later. Perhaps the Russian designers are currently engaged in solving this issue and have not yet determined the optimal layout option.
Of interest are the words of Yu. Borisov about the possibility of attracting an WIG to search and rescue operations. This means that the car will have to have a cargo-passenger compartment of sufficient size, in which it will be possible to transport rescuers or the equipment necessary for them, as well as victims found and evacuated. Combining rockets and bulk load in one project may not be the easiest design task.
According to Yu. Borisov, the Russian infrastructure in the Polar region is not yet developed, and Orlans will have to work there, covering the northern borders of the country. It can be assumed that in this region WIG will be able to show their full potential in the field of flight performance. The equipment of this class can be operated only over flat surfaces: in the Far North it can be both the surface of the sea and ice fields.
Moreover, when working on a pack ice, an EK board gets rid of some difficulties. When flying over water, excitement has a noticeable effect on the screen effect and, accordingly, on the characteristics of the machine. Ice fields are more stable, which simplifies piloting.
It is easy to notice that the perspective ekranoplan is now seen as a kind of replacement for some aircraft. He will have to patrol in remote areas and, if necessary, use missile weapons. This allows us to consider the "Orlan" a kind of analogue of the existing long-range marine bombers aviationwhose tasks also consist in the search and destruction of dangerous surface or ground objects.
Due to a number of characteristic features of the design inherent in ekranoplans, a promising model may have some advantages over traditional aircraft. At the same time, he will have to lose them in other areas. For example, the use of the screen effect can increase the payload, but seriously limits the maximum speed. In practice, this means that the bomber, carrying fewer weapons, can quickly reach the line of its application.
A characteristic advantage of WIG, of great interest in the context of their combat use, is their low visibility for enemy detection systems. Moving at a low altitude above the surface of the sea, land or ice, the machine can move secretly and go into the area of the launch of rockets without unmasking itself. In addition, a ground-effect vehicle (WIG) can be a challenging target for air defense assets of enemy ships. This applies to both anti-aircraft missiles and deck fighters.
However, we should not forget that WIGs have several fundamentally intractable shortcomings. Some of them degrade performance and make it difficult to operate, while others impose significant restrictions on the ways and methods of work. The ekranoplan of traditional design, which does not have the ability to rise to a considerable height, requires the correct choice of route, which should not be attended by tall objects or sharp drops in height. In addition, it cannot perform deep turns, which seriously increases the turning radius and limits maneuverability.
You should also recall the administrative problem that the first Russian ekranoplanes had to face. In terms of design, this technique is similar to airplanes, but is intended for use fleet. This requires the involvement of both the aircraft industry and the shipbuilding industry, as well as related departments from both areas, which makes it difficult to carry out the necessary work.
According to official data, the Orlan project will be developed within the framework of the current State Armaments Program, which is in force until 2027. When exactly the work should start, it has not yet been clarified, but it is clear that the finished sample of promising technology will appear no earlier than the mid-twenties. Given the various tests, refinements and the need for a fairly complex preparation for mass production, it should be assumed that the operation of serial equipment - if it appears - starts only at the beginning of the thirties.
It can be assumed that by the time the Orlans began service, the Russian infrastructure in the Polar region will change for the better and be able to more effectively protect the northern borders of the country. However, their total length and, as a consequence, the area of responsibility of ekranoplans by that time will not be reduced. Thus, despite the development of all other elements of the defense in the Northern direction, the Russian army may also need fundamentally new models.
The state armaments program, designed for the period from 2018 to 2025 a year, started just a few months ago. It provides for several new development work, including the design and construction of a promising ground-effect vehicle with the Orlan cipher. It is possible that the project "Orlan" has not yet had time to start, but now it attracts attention and is of great interest. Previous domestic projects of military ekranoplans could not be called fully successful, and it remains to be hoped that the new development in this area will be able to change this state of affairs.
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