The uniqueness of such devices as ekranoplan is connected with their technical peculiarity of combining the properties of an air vessel and a sea vessel. To a greater extent it relates to the type of ships, since it has the ability to move in close proximity to the surface - two to three dozen meters. The ekranoplan is capable of gliding over the earth's surface or water surface using a screen effect, in which the necessary lifting force is provided by the flow of incoming air, which injects high pressure under the ship. Most of all, ekranoplans, as a rule, are used above the sea surface, this is due to its more uniform area in height, in contrast to the relief of the earth.
Ekranoplans stand out favorably against the background of ordinary ships in that they have the ability to reach speeds of up to 460 kilometers per hour, and the territory of their movement is practically unlimited - seas, rivers, ice, snow and marshland can serve to form a “screen”. Unlike conventional airplanes, WIGs have a high degree of survivability, and they are also more economical and are capable of taking on loads with a huge mass. At the same time, such devices do not require the availability of coastal infrastructure - for landing they only need to have only a suitable water area or a flat land plot.
In the Soviet Union, the production of ekranoplanes originates from 1957 and was almost completely discontinued in the early 90s. Over a period of a little less than 40 years, about 30 such devices were built, which were used in the interests of the Ministry of Defense. The most famous vessels of this class are the Orlyonoks and the Lun combat missile carrier. The latter, by the way, was built in one copy and enlisted in the combat structure of the Black Sea fleet. In the mid-90s, the Lun ekranot was decommissioned as obsolete equipment.
Since 2010, Russia has been working on the resumption of the production of ekranoplans, this is primarily due to an attempt to keep up with other states, such as the United States, Italy and France, where the production of such devices is perfectly adjusted and in demand not only by the military, but also by various civilian companies . In our country, the development of new devices is engaged in the Central Design Bureau. Alekseeva, known as the chief developer of the "Caspian Monster" and which resumed development and design work on the creation of ekranoplans. This was stated by Evgeny Meleshko, head of the quality department of the TsKB named after Alekseeva. According to him, TsKB received a government application for the resumption of work on the creation of devices of this class to ensure the security agencies of the Russian Federation.
Starting with the 2010 of the year and to the present, design work is being carried out, and the main development work on the creation of a large WIG will begin in the 2012 year. “For our company, this is a huge amount of work, most of the company's specialists will be involved in this topic,” said E. Meleshko in an interview.
But if, according to the state order, works on the creation of an ekranoplan are at the design stage, then a similar device has already been created in a commercial niche. At the shipyard Volga, located in Nizhny Novgorod, the construction of the new Russian ground-driven vehicle Orion-20 has been completed, and its tests will be carried out by the end of this year. This was announced by Yuri Varakosov, director of the Association of manufacturers, developers and consumers of ekranoplans - "Ekranoplan".
“The group’s plans include the formation of a model range of new ekranoplans of various dimensions under the Orion brand (20, 27, 40) and a larger capacity (figures are the number of passenger seats),” Varakosov notes. - All these devices have a dual purpose and can be successfully used in power structures. Upon completion of the tests, the first of the Orion-20 model range will be offered on a commercial basis to all interested agencies, organizations and various structures. ”
The Ekranoplan Association also included AviaPort Company - Aviasystems CJSC, which develops and builds light multi-purpose airplanes and ekranoplans. This was announced by Alexander Makienko, CEO of the company. This will undoubtedly become a positive factor in the production of Russian unique devices. In particular, A. Makienko on this issue stated the following: “In connection with the joint interests, the Ekranoplan Association proposed to join Aviasystems CJSC. This is undoubtedly an interesting proposal received a positive review. At present, all the necessary documents are concentrated, executed and filed with the relevant authorities. It is still quite difficult to talk about the prospects of work as part of an association, but already today, our specialists are actively involved in the work on the creation of the Eranoplane Orion 20.
At present, Aviasistemy CJSC has two of its own main promising projects: the creation of the Odyssey screen gun and the AMS-200 light multipurpose aircraft. Currently, intensive negotiations are held with investors on the topic of these developments, the general director said.