The Seaplane Project that Transcends Conspiracy Theories: Liberty Lifter and Soviet Ekranoplanes

DARPA is developing a massive seaplane project reminiscent of the Soviet Union's legendary Ekranoplanes

2 mins read

Although DARPA is known as an organization associated with conspiracy theories, it is currently developing a gigantic seaplane project reminiscent of the legendary Ekranoplanes of the Soviet Union. Developed by Boeing subsidiary Aurora, the Liberty Lifter project aims to create a cargo plane that can fly just above the sea and carry an enormous payload.

The Liberty Lifter will move across the surface of the sea, adopting an ekranoplan-like design. So why is this gigantic airplane moving on the sea surface? The answer to this question is revealed when compared to the world’s largest cargo plane, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III. While the C-17 has a payload capacity of 73 tons, the Liberty Lifter has the advantage of carrying much longer distances and more cargo with less frictional acceleration from the sea surface.

The Seaplane Project that Transcends Conspiracy Theories: Liberty Lifter and Soviet Ekranoplanes 1

One of the biggest challenges facing the project is how to protect it in rough seas. According to DARPA’s technical information, Liberty Lifter is currently capable of traveling up to 10,000 feet (about 300 km) with a load of 100 tons. However, testing of the aircraft is ongoing and it is not yet clear how fast it can carry the load.

In the past, Soviet Ekranoplan aircraft were capable of carrying 100 tons of cargo over distances as far as 2000 km. However, the high cost of these aircraft and the difficulty of using them in rough seas prevented the project from being realized. Nevertheless, it is possible to find scrap Ekranoplans developed and tested in the former Soviet territories.

The US aims to complete the Liberty Lifter’s ability to move through rough seas without damage by 2025. If all goes according to plan, the Liberty Lifter cargo plane will be the first Ekranoplan to land at sea in 2028.



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