[Homestead] Russian hovercrafr

tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Tue Feb 1 08:32:57 EST 2005

In present-day terms, an isolated $200,000,000 contract  is quite 
small---but it may keep the hovercraft producer alive  for a year or
two, and a skeletal design team.


Greece acquires unique hovercrafts from Russia - 02/01/2005 14:00

Russia's invincible vessel has no analogues anywhere in the world

  Invisible for radars, capable of transporting up to 500 commandoes or 
10 armored vehicles with 140 military men or three tanks v these are 
most outstanding peculiarities of the unique Russian hovercraft, project 
12322, known in Russia as ?Zubr¦ (?Bison¦). The Russian Defense Ministry 
handed over the third craft of the class to the Greek Navy last week. 
The vehicle was built by the Russian shipbuilding company Almaz, 
according to terms of the $200-million contract.

  ¦I do not know what other weapon could be more preferable v these 
crafts have no analogue in the world, taking into consideration 
thousands of islands that Greece has to defend,¦ Russian Defense 
Minister Sergei Ivanov said commenting on the successful completion of 
the deal with the Greek authorities.

  The ¦Zubr¦ appeared in 1985. The vessel is capable of landing 
commandoes on 78 percent of unequipped coasts of the world (conventional 
storm boats can do the same on the level of 14 percent only). In 
addition, the craft possesses a special quality, which seems to be 
fantastic for battle ships: it is invisible for enemy's radar stations. 
The effect is achieved with the help of special coating on the body of 
the ship. Furthermore, the hovercraft sails in a big cloud of water 
splashes, which makes it undetectable for radars.

  In addition to transporting land troops, the amphibious vessel is 
capable of making mine barriers, and rendering serious battle support to 
military men. The vessel is outfitted with two reactive Grad-M systems 
and four anti-aircraft Strela-3 complexes. The first system is meant to 
clear a coast of enemy's forces. Strela-3 defends the vessel from 
airplanes and helicopters during sea navigation. ?Zubr¦ is equipped with 
two automatic six-barreled AK-630 guns. When the hovercraft shoots, it 
fires up to 4,000 shells a minute, which earned it a nickname in the 
Russian navy v a metal-cutter. The intensive fire of AK-630 guns is a 
reliable defense against torpedoes, mines and even cruise missiles.

  The Russian Navy had eight ?Zubrs¦ in the arsenal in the beginning of 
the 1990s. When the USSR broke up, five of them were handed over to 
Ukraine, whereas Russia was left with three. However, there was no point 
in any further exploitation of the vessels. Russian and Ukrainian top 
officials stated that they had no aggressive intentions against 
neighbors. Furthermore, it was said that neither Russia nor Ukraine had 
any territorial disputes with any other state. It just so happened that 
the powerful and unique hovercrafts were useless. Export became the only 
way for ?Zubr¦ to survive. Greece, a NATO member, is the only country so 
far that acquired unique vessels from Russia. Athens plans to launch a 
serial production of the hovercraft in the future, for it is the best 
security guarantee for island states. The countries of South-East Asia 
also evince interest in ?Zubr.¦ Russia has only one hovercraft at the 
moment v in the Baltic Navy.

  The ship is 57 meters long and 20 meters wide; the vessel's 
displacement is 535 tons. The vessel is equipped with high-temperature 
gas-turbine engines. Four propellers 2.5 meters in diameter provide the 
vessel with an air-cushion. Three other propellers let the vessel 
develop an incredible speed of 70 knots (about 130 thousand kilometers 
per hour. It is noteworthy that latest torpedo models are not capable of 
reaching the speed higher than 50 knots. Ground mines do not pose any 
danger to hovercrafts.

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