USSR’s unique Cold War-era flying ship ‘Caspian Sea Monster’ to become main star of military theme park in Russia (VIDEO)

A one-of-a-kind and bizarre-looking ekranoplan vehicle, which looks like a plane but is actually a military super ship, has arrived in the city of Derbent on the Caspian Sea where it will be the highlight of Patriot Park.

Built in the Soviet Union in 1986, 903 Lun became the first and only missile-carrying ekranoplan in the world. It joined the Caspian Flotilla in the early 1990s and remained in service for a decade.

The 74-meter vehicle used the lift generated by the ground effect of its huge wings to fly several meters above the water surface. Despite closely resembling a plane, Lun was classified as a ship by the International Maritime Organization, just like other ground effect vehicles.

The high speed of up to 297 knots (550km/h) and low visibility to radars made the ekranoplan a major threat to aircraft carriers, which it could approach at close distance – without being detected – to fire its missiles.

Meanwhile, Lun’s massive size and unconventional looks prompted the nickname of the ‘Caspian Sea Monster’ in the media.

For years, the technical marvel remained stored at a naval base in Kaspiysk in Russia’s Republic of Dagestan, but it was recently decided it should be shared with the public at the military themed Patriot Park in the nearby city of Derbent.

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The ekranoplan will be the “highlight” of the park’s exposition of military hardware, the Defense Ministry said.

Lun, which is unable to fly anymore, was towed to Derbent via the Caspian Sea in a unique operation which lasted 14 hours.

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