Russian aircraft carrier troubles as China leapfrogs

Russia makes a huge number of ships and even impossible to comprehend nuclear submarines. Some of the Russian made ships and submarines sail under many national flags. Nevertheless, Russia faces severe issues when it comes to an aircraft carrier. The Russian Navy day on 25th July saw the parade of all kinds of ships except for an aircraft carrier.

The only Russian aircraft-carrying cruiser “Admiral Kuznetsov” cannot get out of the problems. During the repair, the ship survived the flooding of a floating dock, a fire in the hold and a change of contractor, who was very slowly building a new dry dock.

In November 2018, Admiral Kuznetsov was damaged because of a 70-ton crane falling from a floating dry dock and a fire that killed two during the refit. Her sister Kuznetsov-class aircraft cruiser Riga, renamed Varyag in the 1990s, is in the service of People’s Liberation Army Navy Surface Force as a full grown aircraft carrier. In 2016, China claimed Liaoning was combat ready. Liaoning experienced a steam burst in the engine compartment during trials, but China rectified it soon after. China now has its own carrier design Type 002 Shandong and has constructed a large portion of a totally different Type 003 carrier. It started building a US style Type 004 carrier.

Admiral Kuznetsov was supposed to be handed over to the fleet in 2022, but on March 2021, United Shipbuilding Corporation CEO Alexei Rakhmanov said that the modernization contract will end only in 2023.

However, Rakhmanov recently said that Russia has all the technologies and solutions for the construction of a new Russian aircraft carrier. As per Rakhmanov, Russian shipbuilders gained experience during the repair of the Admiral Kuznetsov, as well as during the rebuilding of the Soviet era Admiral Gorshkov, which is now called INS Vikramaditya in the Indian Navy service.

Russian officials say that the country is well placed to build a new aircraft carrier. As per Vladimir Pospelov, a member of the board of the Military-Industrial Commission of the Russian Federation and a member of the Naval Board under the government, the Russian Navy needs three such ships – a lead and two serial ones. The preliminary design of the aircraft carrier already exists, and it would be optimal to create a ship with a displacement of 70-80 thousand tons. The aircraft carrier, according to Pospelov, can cost the budget at least 500 billion rubles, and its construction will take at least 10 years, but is fraught with a colossal rise in the cost of the project if it is delayed. In addition, it is advisable to build a ship within the framework of an individual state program so that it does not ‘eat up’ the entire budget of the fleet. By this time, we expect the Chinese to field the Type 004 nuclear powered carrier which is larger than Type 003 carrier that is similar in displacement to the futuristic Russian carrier design.

(Image: Tass, Russian Aircraft carrier – Ulyanovsk Project 11437 Nuclear-Powered cruiser)

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