The Aist class: first large assault hovercraft operated by the Soviet Navy. Watercolor by Joan Mañé

The Aist class (NATO-Code; Russian Project 12321 Dzheyran): first large assault hovercraft operated by the Soviet Navy.

Designed by the Almaz design bureau wing of the Almaz Shipbuilding Company in 1964 -1965. Production of the craft lasted from 1970 until 1985 at Almaz’s plant in Leningrad.

Three modified Aists (700 series) are based in the Baltic Sea, and the other three are in the Caspian Sea. Craft #609 participated in the Caspian Sea exercise in 2002. The earlier engines have been upgraded to allow an increase in displacement up to 298 tons, which is up from the type’s original 260 tons but at a loss of roughly half the type’s original range. Some units carry two SA-N-5 quadruple SAM systems and chaff launchers.

Watercolor by Joan Mañé

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