Few years ago new Russian aircraft carriers were a big guessing game for the foreign observers. There were reasonable questions regarding financial opportunities, technologies, depth of berths etc. Today there are absolutely different questions: what characteristics? Russia is building a new Navy and aircraft carriers are deemed as its integral part.
Speaking with the representatives of the Russian media the Commander of the Russian Navy Vladimir Masorin said that today the state pays much more attention to its Navy. Now the main budget means allocated for the Navy are spend on constructing new ships and subs. However, the largest project to be started in the near future is aimed at creating in the next 20-30 years two aircraft carriers strike groups. Each group will have three aircraft carriers in the North and in the Far East. "One ship will be in the sea, the second will be ready to replace it and the third will be at the base", the Commander explained.
In this way Russia is going to guarantee its security against the threats from the West and the East. Today US Navy plans to commission the 13th aircraft carrier. However, Russian military commanders emphasize that Russia is not going to compete in numbers. Vladimir Masorin considers that it is too costly to keep more than ten aircraft carriers even for such a state as Russia. At the same time Russia will not have military objectives which would require such a big aircraft carriers grouping. Independent military experts agree with this assumption.
This is one of the reasons why Russia starts with costal infrastructure, starting in the Far East. For example, in the nearest future the state will build in Kamchatka a new base for surface ships and upgrade the infrastructure of the base of nuclear submarines. The Navy plans to gather all surface ships located in different places along Avachinskaya peninsular into one place and set up a new infrastructure there. Such a place was already determined. The works on improving the infrastructure of the base of nuclear subs in the closed city of Vilyuchinsk already started. The aim is to upgrade the infrastructure up to the requirements of the newest submarines (project 955 Borei). Vladimir Masorin publicly expressed hope that this base for the first time ever, including Soviet times, will have right anything that is necessary for the Navy. This project alone costs nine billions rubles.
According to Vladimir Masorin the construction of the new aircraft carrier for the Russian Navy will begin after 2015. Before the end of this year the Navy together with the representatives of science and industry are to determine the parameters of the future ship. As of today the aircraft carrier program is divided into two stages: first is preservation and maintenance of the existing "Admiral Kuznetsov", the second is designing and constructing a new ship after 2015".
However, the correspondent of PravdaRu attended the press conference of Alexander Burutin, military advisor to the President of Russia and the expected head of the United Shipbuilding Corporation. According to the details he voiced 2015 is not a fixed term. In certain conditions aircraft carrier(s) may appear earlier. Today this class of ships is not in the State Arms Program (SAP) before 2015. But it was unreservedly stated that with a political decision Russia is ready to build brand new aircraft carrier(s) for export or home Navy immediately. There are no technical uncertainties.
If such a decision is taken, the ships all be built by Sevmash. There is no sense in considering other places as long as Sevmash is available. That was supposed to mean that theoretically there could be other shipyards. Today the parties concerned try to develop the Strategy of the Development of the Navy till 2040. It is certain that aircraft carriers will be there. However, it is not excluded that the project will start even earlier than 2015 in spite of the fact that aircraft carrier is not listed in the SAP. Subject to the respective political will this project will be formulated as an individual national “purpose oriented federal program”. This will allow for going beyond the already developed SAP and also attracting not only the money from the military budget. This was a fundamental statement of absolutely principle importance. It was publicly voiced probably for the first time. De fact it means that Russia may decide to build the aircraft carriers tomorrow. And God knows what political will the next president will have.
Speaking about technical characteristics it is already known that the new Russian aircraft carrier will not compete in size with the American ships. It will be a nuclear aircraft carrier with the displacement of bout 50 thousand tons with around 30 planes and helicopters. Vladimir Masorin assured that Russia will not build giants with 100-130 planes and helicopters on board as in the US. It goes without saying that Russia will suggest something outstanding and unusual. Serious projects like this for the sake of the ordinary ships are not started. By the way, Russian “aviation carrying ships” have never been classic aircraft carriers, as their main strike weapons were missiles, not planes and helicopters. This remark of the Commander could be interpreted as a hint.
However, it would be wrong to expect the new aircraft carriers too soon. Except for the coastal infrastructure such ships need support from smaller ships and subs. Naturally, before the aircraft carriers Russian shipyards will have to build enough support ships: rocket cruiser, several destroyers, frigates, submarines, ships of maintenance.
Recently it has been also officially announced that before 2010 Russia will build in its territory the complex for training pilots of deck aircraft. The full-fledged training complex of the type NITKA which stayed in the Ukraine after the disintegration of the USSR will be constructed in the next two-three years. Russian Navy is not going to pay a lot of money to the Ukraine for leasing NITKA. At the same time recently Russia, Ukraine and India signed an agreement on joint using NITKA, now operated by the Ukrainian Air Force.
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