The Nevskoye Design Bureau (PKB) presented the newest aircraft carrier of the project 11430E “Lamantin” at the International Navy Show in St. Petersburg. This immediately became the topic of enthusiastic news, but in reality, naval sailors do not believe in the prospects for the appearance of ships of this class as part of the Russian Navy. Even in Russia. Thus, Nikolai Evmenov, commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, said that if an atomic aircraft carrier was built, it would not be in the near future.
"Our Version" figured out why in Russia they continue to indulge themselves with illusions about aircraft carriers.
Earlier, sources reported that the Russian Defense Ministry began work on the formation of tactical and technical specifications for a promising Russian aircraft carrier. First of all, the construction of a new generation aircraft carrier with a nuclear power plant is considered. This again made relevant the question that Russian sailors have been discussing for several decades: does the country need a carrier fleet?
Big, expensive, useless
The fact is that the question remains unanswered: But against whom will the Russian Navy use aircraft carriers? Indeed, ships of this class are universal - in addition to carrier-based aviation, they are equipped with rocket and cannon weapons. Thanks to this, aircraft carriers can create air defense, anti-submarine defense of sea units, as well as provide air support to the ground forces in the coastal zone. They are also able to ensure the conquest of superiority in the air and destroy enemy ships. The United States also sees aircraft carriers as one of the key elements of the nuclear deterrence and missile security system.
However, the most important purpose of aircraft carriers is the ability to conduct large-scale operations in a remote theater of hostilities, including other continents. Russia has never waged such wars and is unlikely to wage in the foreseeable future. In this regard, the urgent need for the construction of aircraft carriers is questionable.
Moreover, their construction and maintenance is extremely costly. Even if the technical complexity of their construction and the lack of a number of necessary technologies in Russia are taken out of the brackets, the aircraft carrier project is estimated to be at least 350 billion rubles. Of course, it is now accepted that there is no need to spare money for defense. But the aircraft carrier itself is just a big target. To protect it requires escort ships, which entails new costs. In addition, even in this case, the Russian aircraft carrier is unlikely to be able to seriously compete with the American fleet, and therefore it will become easy prey in the open ocean. It was not for nothing that statements were repeatedly made that the Russian Navy is now relying on the construction of ships of the far sea zone. For example, the recently launched two new frigates of the project 22350 will complement the already existing cruiser Admiral Gorshkov, completing the sea trials of the Admiral Kasaton, completed by the Admiral Golovko and Admiral Isakov. In the coming years, it is planned to build destroyers of the project Leader 23650. They are supposed to enter the Navy until 2025. Until that time, the construction of an aircraft carrier is meaningless.
Also, Russia now has virtually no coastal infrastructure necessary for servicing aircraft carrier groups. According to experts, the lack of modern moorings creates a serious problem for the operation of large ships and leads to their early failure.
Apparently, therefore, the command of the Navy is wary of ideas for building the first domestic aircraft carrier, no matter how pretentious this idea looks from the point of view of propaganda. Indeed, today the Ministry of Defense is in the first place with more realistic tasks - the creation of an efficient fleet that could perform tasks after the Soviet-built ships of old age were written off, and the vast majority of them are now in the ranks. Therefore, first of all, it is necessary to build ships of the class corvette, frigate, nuclear and diesel submarines, as well as landing ships.
Fight for state order
However, representatives of the military-industrial complex have their own point of view. According to a number of experts, “La Mantin” demonstrated to the public is an attempt by the PKB to guess the desire of the military and get funds for the project. The company reports that the ship is designed to support the basing and combat use of the air group. It is planned to include up to 60 aircraft in its composition, including heavy and light fighters, ship-based helicopters, as well as airborne early warning aircraft. In addition, it is planned to base up to 10 drones. It is also promised that the aircraft carrier will be armed against air, sea submarine and surface forces, as well as ground forces and ground targets of the enemy in the ocean, sea and coastal zones. The ship will be able to ensure the military stability of the naval groupings of the naval forces and the cover of the naval landing forces and its landing forces against attacks and attacks of enemy air attack weapons.
The displacement of the ship, which will receive the nuclear power plant, will be 80–90 thousand tons, the maximum length is 350 meters, the autonomy is about 120 days, the full speed is about 30 knots. The crew of the aircraft carrier - 2800 people, the air group will include 800 people. The service life of the ship over 50 years.
It is also planned that the aircraft carrier will be equipped with a springboard, two electromagnetic catapults and four aerofinishers. True, this technology in Russia is still not there.
Applications for the creation of aircraft carriers appear regularly for many years. However, real money for design, and even less for laying and building has never been allocated. This clearly indicates that the military has not yet decided whether they need aircraft carriers. So far, carrier-based ambitions are supported by the presence in the fleet of the heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov, and they are very expensive. "Admiral Kuznetsov" is considered one of the most unsuccessful ships of the Russian fleet, in connection with which it is necessary to continuously allocate funds for its repairs, which costs hundreds of millions. Currently, the "Admiral Kuznetsov" again stands on the joke. Last year, the only floating dock in Russia capable of receiving such large ships sank in Murmansk. During the incident, two tower cranes fell on the cruiser, one of them damaged an aircraft carrier - a ragged hole measuring four meters by five meters was formed in the ship's hull. Apparently, the repair is delayed indefinitely. The current stage of technical readiness of the ship is 25%, to complete the repair and modernization of "Admiral Kuznetsov" is expected at best by the end of 2020. Although it is already obvious that all this is useless. According to experts, the "Admiral Kuznetsov" has long since exhausted all shelf life and as an aircraft carrier is obsolete. However, it is one of the ways to demonstrate the sea power of Russia. In addition, a huge industrial and logistics complex operates on an aircraft carrier, which consists of two training grounds for pilots of deck aviation NITKA - in the Crimea and the Krasnodar Territory, ship repair and dock facilities, sharpened for Kuznetsov repair. All this creates the appearance of involvement in high-tech production and, not least, thousands of jobs.
Alexander Khramchikhin, Deputy Director of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis:
“The Russian Navy today has no need not only to create a new aircraft carrier, but even to restore the aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov.” These projects are expensive, and the modern Russian fleet simply has no tasks for ships of this class. The question also arises whether the industry can build these ships. Even if it is possible to create or buy all the necessary technology for the construction, its cost will be much higher than that of the ships that exist today. Most likely, this is understood by the military department, therefore, the modernization of the only existing aircraft carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov has been less and less talked about lately.