Thanks to Steve Barker
A ground effect vehicle (GEV) is one that attains level flight near the surface of the Earth, made possible by a cushion of high-pressure air created by the aerodynamic interaction between the wings and the surface known as ground effect. Also known as a wing-in-ground-effect (WIG) vehicle, flarecraft, sea skimmer, ekranoplan, SkimMachine, or wing-in-surface-effect ship (WISE), a GEV can be seen as a transition between a hovercraft and an aircraft. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has classified the GEV as a ship. A GEV differs from an aircraft in that it cannot operate without ground effect, so its operating height is limited relative to its wing span.
In recent years a large number of different GEV types have evolved for both civilian and military use. However, these craft are not in wide use.
The Lun-class ekranoplan Ground effect vehicle (pictured above) was an unusual aircraft designed by Rostislav Evgenievich Alexeev and used by the Soviet & Russian navies from 1987 to sometime in the late ’90s. It is one of the largest ever built, with a length of 73m, rivaling the Hughes H-4 Hercules (“Spruce Goose”) and many modern jumbo jets.
The sole vessel of her class, MD-160 entered service with the Black Sea Fleet in 1987. Eight Kuznetsov NK-87 turbofans were mounted on forward canards, each delivering 127.4 kN (28,600 lbf) of thrust. MD-160 had a flying boat-like hull with a large deflecting plate at the bottom of the hull to provide a “step” for takeoff.
The aircraft was equipped for anti-surface warfare, carrying the P-270 Moskit missile. It was fitted with six missile launchers, mounted in pairs on the dorsal surface of the fuselage, and advanced tracking systems mounted in the nose and tail. A development of the Lun was planned for use as a mobile field hospital for rapid deployment to any ocean or coastal location. Work was 90% complete on this model, the Spasatel, but military funding ceased and it was never completed. The sole MD-160 is now unused at a naval station in a town of Kaspiysk.