In early 1960s, the Soviet Navy command was
urgently needed a fast military transport capable of carrying a large
payload on the shore of Caspian Sea and Black Sea. The Minister of
Defense recognized a Wing-In-Ground effect vehicle
which basically allowed
for a greater weight aircraft to utilized the low-altitude lift over
water for increased range and better fuel economy.
As Alexeyev's Central Hydrofoil Design Bureau conceived some WIG designs
at the time, the firm received support from
military to build the test platform, the KM
Ekranoplan. The construction was started In 1963. The KM made its first
flight in 1967 with Alexeyev himself in control. In the course of
testing the the optimum flight altitude in WIG mode proved to be 4 to
14m. At that time the KM was the largest flying vehicle in the world.
The KM performed as a testbed until it crashed due to pilot error in
1980. It proved valuable in evolving the scientific basis for the
design, construction and testing of ekranoplans.