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LCAC Construction to Resume in Russia for Zubr and Murena

The State Armaments Program for 2018-2027 envisages resumption of construction of Zubr type of small air-cushioned landing craft and Murena type of air-cushioned landing ships. Russian vice-premier Yuri Borisov stated that tens of such ships would be built at the Khabarovsk shipyard, the Independent Military Review newspaper reports.

Dozens of Zubr and Murena LCACs to be built for Russian Navy Mordovia and Yevgeniy Kocheshkov landing in Kaliningrad Oblast. Picture: Russian MoD

Project 12322 Zubr small air-cushioned landing ships are, experts say, a few decades ahead of their time. The air cushion, created by compressed air under the boat bottom, raises it over the water or land surface. This dramatically reduces resistance to movement and provides the highest possible speed for motors and turbines.

Previously, Zubr ships were powered by high temperature gas-turbine engines built in Nikolayev, Ukraine.

The air cushion was created by four NO-10 supercharger plants while the thrust for the ship’s progress was provided by three propellers, each 5.5 m in diameter. Project 12322 Zubr ship measures 57 m in length, 20 m in width. Its displacement is 535 tonnes, draft 2 m. Zubr moves at a speed of 70 knots (around 130 km/h) whereas a conventional warship moves at a speed of around 30-35 knots. The displacement above 500 tonnes shows that this is one of the world’s largest air-cushioned ships.

According to experts’ estimates, Zubr can land an assault group on 78% of the unprepared coast of the world’s oceans. The conventional landing ships can do this on less than 17% of the entire length of oceans’ and seas’ coastline. Of course, a large landing ship can land combat equipment in a floating position, but the Zubr still has a considerable edge, being able to bring the troops right to the coastline.

LCAC Construction to Resume in Russia for Zubr and Murena Zubr can land an assault group on 78% of the unprepared coast of the world’s oceans.

After 2004, the supplies of power plants from Ukraine to Russia began to dwindle and the accrued cooperation between the two counties’ defense industry companies crumbled. In this connection, efforts were made to replace the imported components. The laborious process of import substitution in the area of ships’ power plants resulted in rescheduling of the state armaments program. In 2011, it became known about the complete refusal to build Project 12322 small landing ship for the Russian Navy. So a decision was taken to create other new dynamic and non-dynamic float support boats for the national navy.

Despite the prevailing unfavorable circumstances, Russia did succeed in restoring the production of technologically extremely sophisticated gas turbine engines. Thus manufacture began at the PAO ODK-Saturn Company, incorporated by the United Engine Corporation, of power plants for air-cushioned boats. With the launch of production of M70FRU-2 fully Russian gas turbine plant, the construction of small air-cushioned landing craft Zubr was restored. Such craft can bring up to 10 armored personnel carriers with marines and carry 550 assault troopers or 3 tanks and a company of marines out to 300 sea miles, which is enough for crossing the Black Sea.

LCAC Construction to Resume in Russia for Zubr and Murena 2Project 12061 Murena air-cushioned landing craft. In 2003 the ROK Navy ordered three vessels from Russia.

Project 12061 Murena air-cushioned landing craft has a smaller displacement than the Zubr. However, its function is the same, i.e. transportation of troops by sea and their landing on an unprepared coast. The length of Project 12061 air-cushioned landing boat is 31 m; width 14.5 m, displacement 150 tonnes. The 20,000 hp gas turbine power plant enables the Murena to move at a speed of up to 55 knots. Taking onboard 24 tonnes of cargo, the Murena can cover up to 200 miles at a maximum speed.

The Murena operating principle does not dramatically differ from that of the Zubr. The air cushion supercharger and the boat propellers are driven by two high temperature gas turbine engines, 10,000 hp capacity. Notably, to form an air cushion two supercharging units are used while the propelling thrust is provided by two reverse screws, 3.5 m in diameter, fitted in ring settings. A two tier flexible enclosure is used for keeping the air cushion under the body, which promotes its rise over the surface to the required height.

Creation of new modernized fast landing craft ensures Russia’s military prestige. Such equipment can be demanded by the Russian navies at the Black, Baltic, and Caspian Seas. It would be pertinent to remind that Zubrs and Murenas also operate in the Far East. Experts point out that air-cushioned craft are interesting to foreign customers who have previously familiarized themselves with this equipment, the Independent Military Review newspaper writes.

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