MOSCOW — A cargo plane designed to fly just above the ground and capable of carrying up to 500 tons of cargo in a single trip is under development in Russia.
Scientists from Russia’s Central AeroHydrodynamic Institute are currently testing models of the Ground Effect Vehicle (GEV), according to a news release on the institute’s website.
The aircraft would fly over the ground, water or ice in a range of 3 to 12 meters from the surface.
Short, wide wings are designed to trap air between the aircraft and the ground. This creates downdraughts that produce greater lift force and less drag than other fixed wing-aircraft, allowing the plane to carry bigger loads with less fuel.
Russia has a tradition of developing low-flying GEVs, also known as “ekranoplan.”
The Soviet Union built several of these giant low-flying aircraft in the 1970s and 1980s.
Perhaps the best known example was a 544-ton experimental vehicle, which was nicknamed the “Caspian Sea Monster” by Western intelligence and was the largest aircraft in the world when it was built in 1966.
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