Russia's only missile-carrying Project 903 Lun class ekranoplan is being decommissioned for good and it is to be put on display at Patriot Park in the city of Derbent in Russian republic of Dagestan, reported The Drive. The ship had not been used in decades.
The ship arrived in Derbent on July 31, 2020, after an arduous 14-hour journey south from the Russian Navy's base in Kaspiysk, Dagestan. Preparations for the craft took a whole day.
The ship, also called an MD-160, was tugged to Derbent. This was no easy feat as the ship weighs 837,757 pounds (380,000 kg).
The ship began its construction back in 1986 and was completed by 1991. It was a powerful model supported by eight Kuznetsov NK-87 turbofan engines, each with a maximum thrust rating of 28,600 pounds (130,000 kg).
It was essentially meant to be used as a flying boat but since the completion of its construction coincided with the collapse of the Soviet Union, it didn't see much action. Once completed, it was transferred to the Caspian Sea Flotilla.
But make no mistake about it, the ship was meant to be a combat craft. Its original design features six P-270 Moskit anti-ship missiles built in pairs on top of its central fuselage.
It also features a surface search radar in its tail. All in all, it was meant to launch high-speed attacks on enemy warships. However, that never came to happen, and it wasn't just because the Soviet Union fell.
Even before, there Russians were unsure about the ship. A second version was indeed under construction but it was meant to be an unarmed ammunition resupply ship. This last ship never saw the light of day.
For all these reasons, the ekranoplan failed to live up to its true potential and instead withered in despair, unused and perhaps unloved. Despite that, it will soon be in display for all to witness as an important part of history. Maybe, it will finally get the recognition it deserves.