Arms race – Russia plans to build a nuclear carrier

As for weapons, Russia will undoubtedly place all the best weapons on the new ship that the army is equipping right now.

Source: Andrey Stanavov

The country is increasing its armaments: recently it became known about plans to build a new aircraft carrier. It is designed to compete with the US Navy in the oceans.


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The scale is amazing: more than 300 meters in length and more than 65 meters in height. Draft is almost 11 meters and a displacement of about 80 thousand tons. Four nuclear reactors with a capacity of 305 megawatts each, which will accelerate it to 55 km / h. This is what a new nuclear aircraft carrier Russia is planning to build.

As for weapons, Russia will undoubtedly place all the best weapons on the new ship that the army is equipping right now. And this is a lot: the aircraft carrier will be able to take on board about 70 combat aircraft. On the deck there is a place not only in service with the Su-33 currently in service, but also with the latest MiG-35 and Su-57 multipurpose fighters, which are still under development.

In addition, we are talking about the latest hypersonic miracle weapons that the Kremlin’s bishop Vladimir Putin showed the world two years ago: air-to-ground dagger missiles, as well as Zircon guided anti-ship missiles. In addition, the new aircraft carrier will be able to fire Caliber medium-range missiles, which Russia intends to actively develop after the US withdraws from the Medium and Shorter Range Missile Treaty (INF).

The Russian United Shipbuilding Company (USC) is expected to receive an order to create an atomic aircraft carrier later this year, although no official confirmation of this information has yet been received. Earlier, the command of the Russian Navy announced its readiness to take the nuclear carrier into service by 2030.

This echoes the statement of the Russian Ministry of Defense that the contract for the construction of an aircraft carrier should be concluded in 2025. It will take five years to build.

Old plans will form the basis

However, it is possible that these plans will be adjusted and come to life faster. In recent years, the Kremlin has actively demonstrated its ambitions in the field of foreign and security policy. So, the Russian leadership has equipped a naval base in Syria and expects to implement similar plans in Libya.

In general, plans to develop an aircraft carrier are not new: the USSR was going to build such a ship at the height of the Cold War in order to restore balance in the arms race, in particular at sea. The aircraft carrier Admiral Ulyanovsk was supposed to withstand the Nimitz class nuclear carriers (which received its designation by the name of the first such Nimitz ship, which was put into service in 1975).

But the Soviet military miscalculated: the ship was laid in 1988 at a shipyard in the current Ukrainian Nikolaev, but after the collapse of the USSR, neither Ukraine nor Russia had the money and the ability to operate an aircraft carrier. In 1992, his body was sawn, and the project went to the dustbin of history.

The development of a new aircraft carrier is associated with a partial resuscitation of an old project. According to the Russian state news agency TASS, the Admiral Ulyanovsk will serve as the basis for the new aircraft carrier.

Experience in the development of nuclear engines

With all the love for the USSR and nostalgia for glorious Soviet times, the Russian “defense” will not make a mistake – and will not recreate the 30-year-old ship “one to one.” Perhaps the old drawings are suitable for the development of the hull, but otherwise the aircraft carrier will be designed in accordance with modern achievements of military science and technology. So the project may well be called new.

In particular, this applies to engines. They will also become nuclear, but the design will be completely new, especially since Russian shipyards in recent years have gained considerable experience in this area during the construction of nuclear icebreakers.

“The technical design and documents, according to which work was done on Ulyanovsk in Nikolaev in the late 1980s and early 1990s, will come in handy when developing a new Russian aircraft carrier,” an anonymous source in the Russian shipbuilding industry quoted TASS as well. the experience of building the much smaller Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, which took part in the military operation in Syria, was taken into account.

Admiral Kuznetsov is currently the only aircraft carrier available to Russia. He left the slipways in 1985, has a displacement of about 60 thousand tons and is thus significantly inferior in size to the future ship. In addition, the Admiral Kuznetsov is equipped with only traditional steam turbines and boilers.

Since 2017, this ship has been on the docks where it is being repaired and modernized, which, after the fire in December 2019, will last, presumably, until 2022.

The official confirmation of the plans to build a new ship, in principle, is not very necessary: ​​in recent years, details of defense and security expenses are not published, since Vladimir Putin called them “top secret” several years ago. It is only known that in 2019-2021, about 30% of all budget expenditures are specifically for defense. This is very reminiscent of the situation during the Cold War.

Purely technically, the Russian fleet, having received a new aircraft carrier, will be able to get closer to the American. However, in quantitative terms, the United States will remain the undisputed leader: after all, they have as many as ten ships of the Nimitz class. In addition, China has already managed to build its own aircraft carrier. [end]


The author of the article is Andre Ballin. The original article has been published in Inosmi. Translation and editing by Defenseweek’s team.

Defweek materials contain estimates of exclusively foreign media and do not reflect the position of the Defweek editorial staff.

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