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The EKRANOPLAN (Russian for "sea skimmer") is a very curious transport vessel, invented by the Russians and seeing some applications around the world. Essentially, the ekranoplan consists of an aeroplanelike body, a pair of stubby wings and several powerful jet type engines. Sizes and designs vary, but can be very large. All ekranoplans make use of the ground effect, in the way hovercraft do, which causes increased lift while the vehicle is close to the ground, or in the case of the ekranoplan, the water. The modern ekranoplan can travel upwards of 300 to 400 miles per hour and is capable of transporting over 100 tonnes of cargo over water, flat ice and flat land and was designed as a transport that could offload its cargo wherever there was no suitable port facility. They are expensive to operate and are limited in their scope; thus have seen only limited interest by all but wealthy coastal nations.

Pic ekranoplan.jpg