Russia tests largest amphibious hovercraft in live-fire drill in Baltic Sea

Russia has sent the largest amphibious hovercraft ship in the world for live artillery fire exercises in the Baltic Sea, according to the country's Ministry of Defence.

The MDKVP "Eugene Kocheshkov" Zubr-class craft, which Russia says is the largest air-cushioned landing craft in the world, completed a series of military drills in the Baltic Sea, including live fire at aerial targets with АК-630 automatic artillery and the marine equivalent of the Grad missiles in use in eastern Ukraine.

"Luminous SAB-250 bombs arranged in the form of garlands with glowing elements were suspended as targets by Sukhoi Su-24 bomber jets from the naval aviation of the Baltic Fleet," the press service of Russia's Western Military District reported yesterday afternoon.

The Zubr is designed as a heavy duty, multi-purpose vessel capable of carrying large cargo and personnel across water and designed to enable assaults on shore under enemy fire.

According to Russia's Ministry of Defence the ship's air cushion can survive harsh land conditions and can move through swamps, making the vessel capable of landing on 70% of the total length of the coastline of the seas and oceans of the world.

The Zubr-class vessel can carry up to 130 tonnes of cargo which amounts to as many as three medium battle tanks such as the T-80B tank or eight BMP-2 infantry combat vehicles according to Naval Technology's specs sheet of the vessel. Alternatively the Zubr can also carry 10 BTR-70 APCs at once or 360 fully equipped amphibious landing troops.

Other elements of the vessel which were tested in the exercise beside its firing capabilities were damage control, radiation exposure, chemical and biological protection of the ship into the sea.

Russia shares the Baltic Sea with NATO allies Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland, as well as with EU members Sweden and Finland. Its major access point to the waters is the enclave city of Kaliningrad which is separated from mainland Russia by the territory of Poland and Lithuania.

A recent Newsweek investigation found that the increased military build-up in Kaliningrad has turned the city into "a veritable arms depot".

Meanwhile earlier this year defence officials from Baltic states expressed concern at the amount of Russian military activity near their respective territories, while Martin Hurt, director of Estonia's International Centre for Defence and Security warned a possible Russian tactic could include raising the alert level in the region permanently and trigger an assault "one or several of the Baltic states' capitals".

Russia tests largest amphibious hovercraft in live-fire drill in Baltic Sea |