posted on Apr, 19 2004 @ 01:36 PM
You might not have to go to New Mexico to see a UFO — flying saucers are coming to your home skies, thanks to Russian aircraft designers. The U.S.
Naval Air Systems Command has signed an agreement with Russia’s EKIP Aviation concern to cooperate in the production of unique flying saucer-shaped
aircraft developed in Russia, perfect for putting out forest fires and monitoring oil pipelines.
Originally developed in 1992, the alien-looking aircraft failed to secure funding from the Russian government. Twelve years later, the U.S. and China
are very interested in making it work.
Obviously, the unusual round shape in itself makes such a vehicle exciting, but what are the practical applications? “This is a radically new craft,”
Alexey Konovalov, EKIP’s executive director, explains. It doesn’t require a long runway and can land on sand, but most importantly, the shape of the
aircraft is a brilliant solution for getting rid of vibration, a long-time problem in aircraft design. EKIP plans to build the first unpiloted
vehicles that could be used for monitoring hard-to-reach areas and then move to building larger craft weighing up to 100 tons. The unpiloted EKIP
“ships” could aid in putting out forest fires as well as collecting information that could be transmitted to a land base, Konovalov said.
Originally, the Russian government had promised funding for the project, but in 1995, three years after the construction commenced, all funding was
cut off. Private investors couldn’t be persuaded to commit the millions of dollars necessary to continue work on the craft, Konovalov laments. Now,
with the agreement between EKIP and the Naval Air System Command signed, EKIP is waiting for the funds to come in and in the meantime, negotiating
with China to discuss a possible joint venture.
Russian designers will keep the rights to their unique work, but the vehicles might be produced either in Russia or the U.S. Currently, the plan is to
test the aircraft in 2007 and launch it into mass production in another five years. Until then, any strange shapes in the sky are certain to be flown
by little green men.