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bsergonomics
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How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Sun Jun 12, 2005 11:16 pm

Following the discussion, "A380 As A Troop Transport?", it got me thinking about the assault versions of the Ekranoplans. These were Wing in Ground Effect craft, designed to carry hundreds of troops at 400 k/h, 'flying' just above the waves.

For a brief overview of these craft, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ekranoplan

Which begs the question, how could you shoot one down with another aircraft? Would a missile be able to effectively track the thing, and would it's turn radius (if fired from above) put it at risk of hitting the water on final approach to the target?

Also, it was so large that it would take one hell of a hit to knock out enough critical systems. Would strafing even cause that much damage?

Thoughts on a postcard, please...
The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...
 
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10boomer
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Mon Jun 13, 2005 2:35 am

I can't speak to the missile trajectory issue intelligently, but any modern look down / shoot down radar should be able to track it and lock on to it. With the large banks of engines, IR missile should have no problem with acquisition but the warheads are small and might not do significant damage. However, I suspect that the Ekranoplans are not highly maneuverable and would be subject multiple engagements.
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SATL382G
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Mon Jun 13, 2005 2:39 am

...on the other side of the coin - if you upset one of these things it might be difficult for it to recover. If a missile gets a near miss on an aircraft at altitude and the aircraft upsets, it still has room to recover. If the ekranoplan gets upset and goes up, it stalls out of ground effect. If it goes down it hits the water and cartwheels at 400kmh.
"There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as being shot at and missed" --Winston Churchill
 
TedTAce
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Mon Jun 13, 2005 3:55 am

I WISH they'd make 'express ways' for ekronoplans in the US. I think it'd be a slightly safer alternative to 'typical' jet travel if done right.

One place I thought would do great with them would be Maldives  Smile Maybe even the Bahama's and caribbean.
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dl021
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Mon Jun 13, 2005 7:20 am

I believe that an Ekranoplan would represent a fairly easy target for a modern jet fighter with anything from BVR missiles to guns.

Its slow and low, and not terribly maneuverable.
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bennett123
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Mon Jun 13, 2005 8:48 am

I think that is very vulnerable.

Anything that makes the pilot twitch would do it.
 
KennyK
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Mon Jun 13, 2005 9:12 am

Aren't they made almost of 'boiler' plate instead of coke can thin aluminium? Be like trying to sink a warship not a light weight fragile traditional aircraft.
If all else fails a bucket of instant sunshine would sort one out  sun 
 
Woodreau
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Mon Jun 13, 2005 10:22 pm

What is the typical range for an Ekranoplan? (I'm just asking because I don't know anything about it - so I'm just talking about it from a surface based air defense viewpoint) To use it as an assault troop carrier, you'd need a staging base within range to start from.

Once it's actually "underway" and in flight you don't need to damage much, you're not targeting the major structure or the fuselage or wing, you just need to target the control surfaces - aileron, elevator are the ones that come to mind, with propulsion systems second. If you take away the pilots' ability to control the craft, then you increase the chances of it "crashing" which is just as good as killing it outright with a missile. If you take out an engine, the pilots still have a means to "land" it back on the water safely.

From a speed standpoint, it travels about as fast as a turboprop, just at a lot lower altitude. But it's bigger than a Silkworm-era type missile, so it would be easy to detect. A radar on the surface probably won't have a problem detecting one, probably detect it on a long range surface-search radar at a range of 30-40 miles - it would look like a really fast helicopter. probably the 50-60miles with an air-search radar. - so about a 3-4 minute reaction time once you pick it up on radar.

You do have the problem of sea clutter when you're looking down on a target skimming the surface. A fighter with a look-down/shoot down radar probably will NOT have any problems detecting one. But the AAM's used aren't optimised for engaging an aircraft that low, the receiver on a SARH missile may get confused with the clutter being reflected back from the surface from an airborne illuminator. An active radar AAM coming from above may have the same problems. If the active radar missile is just slightly above the target, there probably won't be as much sea clutter, and would have a better chance of successful intercept. An IR missile wouldn't have to worry about sea clutter and probably would be the best bet in engaging one.

Engaging from the surface, it wouldn't be difficult. - lots of time to acquire, track and engage. The missile intercept geometry is not that difficult.

In short, I don't think it would be too hard to successfully shoot down an Ekranoplan.

Just as a side note, the IMO changed the international navigation rules in 2003, to include the Wing-In-Ground effect craft as another type of vessel, and the rules of operation of one with respect to other vessels. - they're basically at the bottom of the totem pole grouped with the seaplane - they have to stay clear of everyone else.

http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/mwv/navrules/navrules2003.htm
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MD11Engineer
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Tue Jun 14, 2005 10:23 am

I watched a programme about Ekranoplanes a while ago on TV, with lots of original Soviet footage. It was said that the huge ekranoplans had to use sophisticated flight control electronics to prevent them from porpoising or diving (both lethal at the speeds). It crossed the Caspian sea in about 30 minutes...

Jan
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bsergonomics
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Wed Jun 15, 2005 5:39 am

From the replies so far, it seems that either one or more IR missiles on the engines or a 1000lb bomb with a proximity fuse (i.e., airburst) set to 50 feet and aimed in front or to one side might be the best options.

The only other proposition that I've heard so far is a fuel-air bomb, set off just in front of the craft. The basic idea is to both reduce the air density and heat it up (thereby further reducing the pressure) and make the craft lose lift and crash into the sea. The problems are that it takes time to set up and it can be a bit messy (i.e., the extent of the blast cannot be easily contained).

Any other thoughts?
The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...
 
Woodreau
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Wed Jun 15, 2005 6:28 am

The only problems I see with the dumb 1000lb bomb or FAE is that they aren't guided, and there is no propulsion on the weapon to adjust for a maneuvering target. - so most likely you will miss using either of these two weapons.

I think the ekranoplan is probably maneuverable enough to avoid any bombs being dropped on it. - it just needs to do random jinks at random intervals of time... just like ship's zig-zagging to avoid being targeted by a submarine. You can drop a dumb bomb on a non-maneuvering target and hit it with relative accuracy, but once you introduce any maneuvering on the target, the ability to hit goes down immensely.

You can't use a GPS guided bomb, GPS guided weapons are useless against moving targets.

You might be able to use a laser guided weapon, on a bomb you have to get the bomb into a launch "basket" but if the target is maneuvering, the launch basket also "maneuvers" and the bomb won't have the energy to maneuver with the target.

One weapon that might work is a laser guided missile, like a Hellfire. (unfortunately Hellfire is armor piercing, so it would probably go thru the ekranoplane before it detonated.)

edit: if it get within range of any ground based AAA, I think AAA would be very effective against it.

[Edited 2005-06-14 23:31:45]
Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
 
SATL382G
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Wed Jun 15, 2005 6:44 am

A variation on the anti-armor Sensor Fused Weapon (?) might do the job. Take out the engines, get a mission kill.
"There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as being shot at and missed" --Winston Churchill
 
iakobos
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Wed Jun 15, 2005 7:24 am

In the cartoon serie "Buck Danny", the hero (US on F-100) stops the low flying Lady (Swedish on Saab) by shooting rockets just in front of her plane.


[Edited 2005-06-15 00:26:06]
 
bsergonomics
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Fri Jun 17, 2005 12:30 pm

Just 'thinking outside the box' here...

If the craft is flying at a maximum of 100 ft above the waves, do you think that a depth charge (set off at, say 10-20 ft depth) or a sea mine could work? It would certainly cause an upwash of water and fragments, thus causing (hopefully) an upset and (again, hopefully) some damage.

Or do you think that the ingested water would actually improve engine performance, thus making it easier for the pilot to regain control? In addition, would the sheer mass of this thing just punch through the resulting plume?

More postcards, please...
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bhmbaglock
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Fri Jul 29, 2005 2:06 pm

Why not Harpoon or Exocet? I would also think that at least some A-A missiles could be used.
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AFHokie
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Fri Jul 29, 2005 10:36 pm

You guys have too much free time...

Cheers  bigthumbsup 
 
TedTAce
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Sat Jul 30, 2005 12:04 am

Quoting Bsergonomics (Reply 13):
If the craft is flying at a maximum of 100 ft above the waves, do you think that a depth charge (set off at, say 10-20 ft depth) or a sea mine could work? It would certainly cause an upwash of water and fragments, thus causing (hopefully) an upset and (again, hopefully) some damage.

Only problem is that you'd have to manually set off the charge.. no way I could think of that you could automatically detonate a depth charge with a WIG's presence and cause a problem IE it will be gone before a waave hit it unless it was a surface based munition.

Quoting Bsergonomics (Reply 13):
Or do you think that the ingested water would actually improve engine performance, thus making it easier for the pilot to regain control?

Watch a hydroplane race @ a salt water venue... can I have compressor stalls for $1,000 Alex?

Quoting Bsergonomics (Reply 13):
In addition, would the sheer mass of this thing just punch through the resulting plume?

possibly, but it could cause that cartwhell/crash effect previously mentioned.
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ruger11
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Sat Jul 30, 2005 5:05 am

oh man... the first thing that I thought of was an A-10... just let rip a 2 second burst from the 30mm. The A-10 is slow and used to flying low, too, it would be perfect.

Next would be the 19 shot 2.75" rocket pod, just aim at the plane, start releasing salvos while pulling back, so the rockets start going further in front... one or two hitting the body/wing would knock it good. ( assuming an attack from the rear)

I bet a penguin anti ship missile would work, too. I believe they were made to track fast boats. granted 400kmh is a lot faster than a boat, but surely not outside the envelope.
 
bushpilot
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Sat Jul 30, 2005 3:23 pm

I also immediatly thought about a few second burst from an A-10 30mm. But then came to mind that the warthog is slow and even still faster than an Ekranoplane, but might have a tough time lining it up. What nobody has mentioned that I thought of was having an F-14 and shoot one or more AIM-54 phoenix missles at it. Though I think an anti-ship missle like the typhoon or exocet is probably the best bet.
I love playing the what-if game, but I think the chances of this one happening anytime soon are remote.
 
Woodreau
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Sun Jul 31, 2005 3:28 pm

A Penguin might work, it's an IR seeker, but it has a small warhead.

The AIM-54 Phoenix missile wasn't designed to attack at target that low, and it's radar seeker would probably get confused by the surface clutter being reflected off the sea surface.

Don't know anything about the typhoon missile (I've never heard of it) but the Exocet's seeker range gates aren't designed to track a target moving that quickly. So the seeker probably is incapable of tracking the ekranoplane, even if it is able to detect it. Then you'd need to make sure that there are no other ships in the radar seeker's field of view when it starts looking for the target, because it will go after the first radar contact it sees, and it probably won't be the ekranoplane - but background shipping.

Think of it like looking for your target through a straw, if it's a slow target, you have a pretty good chance of picking it up, no matter what aspect you acquire it at. If it's a fast target and it crosses from right to left or vice versa, you probably won't see it. if you're trying to acquire from behind, then you might see it through your straw...

But the 30mm cannon and rockets probably aren't a bad bet. You might have some success there.
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MD-90
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Mon Aug 01, 2005 2:45 pm

Seems to me that the toughest part of an ekranoplan would be like a seaplane: the hull. I don't think that the top or sides are quite as thick. Why couldn't an air-to-air missile or three take one down? Something heavy like a Phoenix would be best, of course.

If there was any plane that ever needed stealth, it would be an ekranoplan.
 
HaveBlue
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Mon Aug 01, 2005 4:16 pm

The Phoenix is already retired, and the F-14 that carried it is soon to be completely retired. As sad as I am about that, and I am very, that's the way it is and so they are not viable options on shooting down an Ekranoplane in this hypothetical debate.
 
ruger11
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Tue Aug 02, 2005 5:36 am

It is an iteresting problem...

Air to Air Radar guiden missiles aren't designed to fly that low usually

Air to Air Heat Seekers might do the trick, but they are usually small (generally) and a 25lb blast frag warhead might not do too much to the topside of this beast

anti- ship missiles generaly aren't designed to target vessels moving that fast, and especially in top down attack mode "Pop-up" by the time it popped up the plane would be a hundered + yards foward

Bombs would be a tough call, cause GPS guidance is useless ona moving target, laser GPU's would have to have a guidance laser, and heck that would be a 1 in a million shot at 400kmh

A Fuel air explosive might have the blast overpressure to disrupt the ground effect, or maybe knock it into a wave, but it would eb hard to hit, either chasing it or head on (harder)... cause they are dumb bombs, too.

A CBU might work, maybe 3-4 in a line as you fly over and past the ekranoplane, from the rear... still a tough drop, you'd have no refrence point as you overshot, and subject to easy jinking maneivers by the seaplane.

Helicopters are too slow to engage it...

I propose that the A-10 is the best option with armament as follows:

3x 19 shot 2.75" rocket pods
Full 30mm load

Attack from the rear/high angle, a nice smooth dive, begin fireing rockets, hit the gun at a few thousand feet, begin an easy pullout, continuing to fire rockets throughout the pullout, so they hit from tail to nose and in front of it.

I wonder if a TV guided AGM-65 from behind would work?

Or an AGM-114 from a predator??  Smile they ARE fire and forget, but i dunno if they track that fast.
 
L-188
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Tue Aug 02, 2005 10:56 am

You guys are thinking way too hard about this.

BTW, just set me up with a 1" steel cable and a narrow channel or pass the thing has to go through, and I'll get it down.
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bsergonomics
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RE: How To Shoot Down An Ekranoplan?

Wed Aug 03, 2005 6:48 am

Had an interesting suggestion from one of the RAF pilots: JP233 anti-runway system. For the uninitiated, this is a dispenser that throws out hundreds of bomblets and mines, which can take out about 100 yards of runway. It also leaves mines to 'annoy' the people trying to fix the runway afterwards. I don't know if it's still in service but was used a fair bit in the Gulf War in the early 90's. Certainly, it's one VERY effective piece of kit, although they did have problems with self-damage.

If you could fly over the ekranoplan and dispense the munitions, it gives you a much larger threshold for hitting the target, compared to a dumb bomb or LGB/PGM. Also, while you can try and rake the craft, any bomblets that miss may also cause upsets and fragmentation damage.

===

Addendum:

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