Monday, October 17, 2011

Russia's Biggest Question: "Floating Airfields"

Russia, perhaps will get a few carriers. In any case, the representatives of the United Shipbuilding Corporation have repeatedly asserted that the design of a new heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser must begin. It is true that the Russian military has repeatedly insisted that the creation of such ships are planned. Whom to believe - it is not clear.



The fact that the United Shipbuilding Corporation in 2016 will start designing and building aircraft carriers for Russian Navy, said  USC President Roman Trotsenko. Incidentally, he said,  Russia needs these ships. The next day the head of the corporation said that construction would begin in 2018, and the ship will be completed in 2023. In this Trotsenko did not specify the dates of their tests and commissioning of the domestic fleet.

Details of the future aircraft carrier is little known. For the first time information on the conduct of the design work has appeared in the press in 2009. It was reported that they engaged in one of the enterprises USC, but did not specify at what stage the project is. Head of defense contracts Anatoliy Shlemov told, new aircraft carriers will be nuclear, with a displacement of 60 thousand tons. According to him, the Navy required a minimum of three such ships with the ability to increase their number to six units.

In June 2009, the Russian Navy Commander Vladimir Vysotsky announced that the Russian Navy will receive instead of the classic naval aircraft carriers, aircraft systems. These should include the space component, aviation, marine and advanced technology in other areas.

June 30, 2011 Trotsenko shed some more light on the long-term program of the ship - it will equip with nuclear power plant, but the displacement is 80 tons (recall that a similar figure of Soviet aircraft carrying cruisers did not exceed 50 thousand tons).

In early December 2010, Russian media reported that in 2020 the country will develop the construction of a series of four aircraft carrying cruisers, and work on the project design document has already begun. It was assumed that the construction of the ships will be at the expense of the state armaments program for 2011-2020. But then Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov denied this information, stressing that the military has no plans to buy aircraft carriers.

After all this Trotsenko statement that the aircraft carriers will still be designed and constructed in Russia, was a complete surprise. However, a few days later, Anatoly Serdyukov again asserted that the creation of carriers in Russia is not planned, but did not disclose the reasons for this.

But the main reason, I think, is obvious: the lack of the defense budget. Construction of an aircraft carrier - class itself is extremely expensive. But such is needed for aircraft, escort, additional infrastructure on the coast.

Russia is unlike to afford such budget in the near future. GPV-2020 provides for the allocation of 20 trillion rubles, but according to many senior military officials, this money is not enough for a complete upgrade of the army and navy. Back in September 2010, Acting Chief of arms of the Ministry of Defence, Lieutenant-General Oleg Frolov said adequate funding for all the armed forces of the country on the GPV should allocate at least 36 trillion rubles. He noted that the funds can get all kinds of troops, but the Navy and the satellite constellation.

Food for Thought

At the present time, there are three types of aircraft carriers, which are designated as the International Classification of CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery), STOBAR (Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) and STOVL (Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing). At first, such as the American "Abraham Lincoln" aircraft launched from the deck is provided with catapults and landing - arrestor. At the second set instead of catapult jumps, and the planes take off due to thrust of its own engines, but the fit is again performed using arrestor (as in Russia, "Admiral of the Soviet Union Fleet Kuznetsov").

Finally, a third type of aircraft carriers (one of them - Spanish light carrier, "the Prince of Asturias") is designed for fighter aircraft with short takeoff and vertical landing. What kind is reserved for Russian heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser, if ever built, is still unknown. Large displacement suggests - the catapult and arresting gear. In this case, it is possible that the foundation could go nuclear aircraft carrier project "Ulyanovsk" (1143.7) type CATOBAR, development of which began in 1984 and was completed due to lack of funding in 1991.

Displacement vessel with four nuclear power plants had to make 74 000 tons at a length of 323.7 meters, width of 78 meters and draft of 10.7 meters. This "floating airfield" was intended to base 70 aircraft - deck fighters MiG-29K and Su-33 aircraft airborne warning and control the Yak-44, Ka-27 and Ka-31."Ulyanovsk" be equipped with two catapults, arrestor, and a springboard.

But now the Russian aircraft industry has not produced deck aircraft, which could start from an aircraft carrier using the catapult. Existing machines - Su-25UTG, MiG-29K/KUB Su-27K/Su-33 and carry off the ship by jumping. Thus, the construction of aircraft carrier type CATOBAR require a new carrier-based fighter.

Previously, some experts have suggested that such aircraft may be deck version of the Russian T-50 (PAK FA), under development. However, if such a machine is created it’s likely it does not require a catapult: according to the officially announced specifications of the PAK FA suitable runway length is of 400 meters. That is for take-off deck version of the fighter is likely to be more than enough for ski jumping.

But in addition to "Ulyanovsk" in the USSR had developed heavy nuclear aircraft carrier project 1153 "Eagle", which formed the basis of unrealized project 1160. Displacement of the TAVKR was up 65 thousand tons. In the air group planned to turn the ship up to 50 aircraft. The project is "The Eagle" was closed in late 1976, and liberated by means of built aircraft carrier "Admiral Gorshkov" (now "Vikramaditya", bought by the Indian Navy in 2000), Project 1143.4. It is not excluded that the achievements obtained in the framework of 1153, will also be used when creating a new Russian aircraft carrier.

Would not be mistaken ...

Speaking of the beginning of the design and construction of aircraft carriers in Russia, Trotsenko said nothing about the cost of these ships and their application strategy in the Russian Navy. Meanwhile the price of the American aircraft carrier of class “Nimitz” - about five billion of dollars, for the modernization “of Gorshkov” for India were required nearly two billion of dollars (plus the purchase of 16deck MiG-29). One ought not to forget, also, about the need for forming the air group of ship, which, judging by the displacement 80 thousand tons, will count not less than 60 flight vehicles.

In addition, the carrier rarely acts as an independent unit and requires the mandatory presence of the ships maintenance. Their mission is to provide antiaircraft and antisubmarine warfare. Finally, a promising carrier will have to create an infrastructure-based maintenance and repair. In short, the design and construction of a single carrier need huge funds, which amount will increase to a truly colossal proportions, if we take the creation of four or six of these support ships.

At present, Russia has one aircraft carrier -  "Admiral Kuznetsov" in the Northern Fleet, which joined the Navy, January 20, 1991. It is believed that 50 years - the normal life of the ships of this class, after which they should be changed. The Russian aircraft carrier is in service for two decades, and considering how long it takes now the development and production of military equipment (not only the sea), it is time to think about the "successor". By the way, "Admiral Kuznetsov" founded September 2, 1982 and handed over to the fleet after nearly nine years (it's a matter of five years, declared Trotsenko).

At the same time it is unclear how the Russian Navy will use the new aircraft carriers. After all, even for one single, "Kuznetsov," apparently did not find any particular mission: where carrier goes, what its mission…no one tells.

However, the possession of aircraft carriers puts the country in the category of "aggressive" powers, ready to conduct military operations abroad. This is clearly seen in the U.S. in the Navy who now has 11 aircraft carriers. But Russia holds a purely defensive strategy, and military campaigns far from its borders clearly has no intention of venturing. Theoretically, an aircraft carrier can be useful only for security Kuril Islands, given the worsening territorial dispute with Japan.

However, at various times by representatives of the Russian Navy announced that aircraft carriers are needed for the destruction of joints and surface ships for anti-submarine warfare, the destruction of enemy on the coast and hinterland, gaining and retaining control of the air in the fighting, the blockade of certain marine areas. This does not mean that Moscow was considering some attacks on neighboring states.

Our country has a lot of coastline in the Far East, open to access from the Pacific Ocean. In the event of war, the fighting here will be mostly on the sea and the most logical to keep the Russian aircraft carrier group is in the region. In addition, in terms of the long term presence there of aircraft carriers will allow Russia not to build a large number of air bases for patrolling and monitoring of the maritime boundary - "floating airfields" will be able to successfully replace them. And another plus is the ability of ships constantly move along the coast, closer to or further away.

Previously, the Navy Commander Vladimir Vysotsky said that Russia and carriers need to perform another kind of tasks - covering areas of patrolling our strategic nuclear submarines, which requires, inter alia, naval aviation. According to Vysotsky, "if in the north we do not have an aircraft carrier, the combat stability of missile submarines of the Northern Fleet in those areas will be reduced to zero on the second day, because the main opponents submarines & warplanes."

Curiously, in March 2000 decree of the Russian president had approved the "Fundamentals of Russian policy in the field of naval activities in the period before 2010." The document provides, inter alia, the construction of surface ships, including aircraft carriers, with the efficiency of aviation complexes for various purposes. But July 27, 2001 Maritime Doctrine of the Russian Federation in 2020, which contains such a claim to the fleet: "Having the necessary naval capabilities and its effective use for power support of maritime activities of the state." And although the document the word "carrier" is missing, it was still clear - no aircraft carriers designated "naval capabilities" virtually unattainable.

Do not forget that in October 2008, the President and the Russian government approved a program to develop the concept of creating a new class of aircraft carriers. A little later, head of defense contracts the United Shipbuilding Corporation Anatoly reported that such work is being carried out. After this declaration of war that aircraft carriers in Russia nor designed nor built will not be heard at least strange.

Whatever it was, you should take into consideration the complexity of the decision on the construction of not only aircraft carrier, but also other types of ships. It is no doubt that this will need a decade, during which political and economic situation in Russia, the world can change dramatically. As a result of plans made today, could have a decisive influence on the country's destiny in the distant future. And so it was important not to err in the plans.


Post a Comment

Have a say...