Russia no longer needs aircraft carriers


The only Russian aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, has been a clown show plagued by breakdowns, fatal accidents and mishaps. It is currently in dry dock and may not return to action for two years. The Kuznetsov, even when things are working, still belches thick black smoke from its archaic use of a tar-like substance called fuel oil for fuel power. The Kuznetsov was an embarrassment. With all these difficulties, perhaps Russia does not even need an aircraft carrier.

Focus on the nuclear triad instead

Russia has a nuclear triad. The navy boasts several capable nuclear-powered “boomer” submarines capable of firing nuclear missiles. From Moscow’s perspective, it would be nice to have an aircraft carrier that could launch planes to deliver nuclear bombs, but that’s not a pitfall. Russia’s existing nuclear triad is adequate.

Ukraine has rendered the Russian Navy useless

Moreover, the current war against Ukraine has been primarily a land conflict. The Russian Navy in the Black Sea was rendered powerless after the sinking of the advanced missile cruiser and flagship Moskva in Ukrainian hands in April.

A functioning aircraft carrier would have given Russia more military options and bombing capabilities, had the Kuznetsov been deployed in the Black Sea when the fighting broke out. But Russian aviation had a hard time with Ukraine, and carrier-based fighters may not have made a difference due to effective Ukrainian anti-aircraft fire.

Russia loses its prestige without a functional carrier

Russian President Vladimir Putin likes to tout Russian weapons for propaganda effects such as new hypersonic missiles and ICBMs which the chef describes as the best in the world. A functional aircraft carrier would contribute to national morale and prestige and give the Russian Navy an additional reason to request additional resources to assemble an aircraft carrier strike group.

The navy can only protect its borders

But Russia has a regional navy, not a navy blue water. Efforts to expand the reach of the Russian Navy are seen as a “pipe dream.” This must annoy Putin but he has more to worry about the struggles of the army. The money spent on the war in Ukraine will deprive the navy of resources. Even if the Kremlin wanted to build another carrier, it probably wouldn’t have the funds to do so.

One carrier is not enough anyway

But let’s say that the Russian Navy had at least one working carrier and started work on a new one. This would still not allow him to project forces beyond his vicinity. A carrier battle group is not enough. True, the Kuznetsov made a appearance in Syria in 2016 for two months. The battle group had only a handful of ships, including a tug should the Kuznetsov need to be towed home as it did in 2012 and 2015. There were only 15 planes on board and two were lost due to accidents. This was more for propaganda effect than for military gain. The use of the carrier was also considered a sales and marketing tactics for the Russian defense industry.

play defense; No offense

The Kuznetsov was always intended for a more defensive capability than an offensive deployment. The concern was that US and NATO submarines were sneaking in close to shore to allow more accurate and deadly missile strikes from conventional and nuclear weapons. Thus, the tactical need for the Russian Navy was anti-submarine warfare with an aircraft carrier present to counter enemy submarines.

Navy pilots lack practice

Another problem with the Russian Navy is the sad state of transport aviation. Airmen must fly to maintain their advantage. With the Kuznetsov in drydock, pilots do not gain critical take-off and landing experience, especially in bad weather and during night operations. The longer the carrier stays, the worse the naval aviation will be. The Kuznetsov could be out of service until 2024.

Image: Creative Commons.

Admiral Kuznetsov Black Smoke

Image: Creative Commons.

Laughing, so president Dmitry Medvedev once boasted that Russia would have six aircraft carriers by 2025. That’s not going to happen. There are reflections on a modern Project 23000E Shtorm aircraft carrier, but with the war in Ukraine going so badly, it’s hard to foresee a scenario where this ship could be built. The Russian Navy will continue to be a defensive maritime force to protect its coastline and focus on restoring its reputation as a land power, which will be difficult to achieve after losing so many tanks, armored personnel carriers and weapons. ‘infantry. A new aircraft carrier is not possible and perhaps Russia does not need it in the first place.

Biography of the expert: As editor of defense and national security in 1945, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an emerging threat expert and former US Army infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a doctorate. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/International Relations.


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