reason of my frustration is not this never-ending aircraft carrier saga of Russian
Navy. Economy, sanctions et al considered. It is obvious that it is better to
have carriers than not having them. But as I wrote for years—Russian Navy has
issues not with technology, after all, if it puts its mind to it, Russia will
build 3-4 of those ships eventually. No, in the end—the problem is mental, it
is the issue of operational concept for these ships and forces required to form
Carrier Battle Group(s).
statements from the above are not the first time representatives of Krylov
State Research Center throw into the Russian media. Enough to take a look at
the promotion of this:
The Krylov State Research Centre has developed and presented
to the public at large the conceptual design of an aircraft carrier for foreign
customers, which was earlier offered for the domestic fleet as well. The
Project 23000 was called Shtorm (Storm). The conceptual design envisages the
aircraft carrier to displace 80,000-90,000 tonnes and feature a combined
powerplant (a nuclear reactor and a gas turbine engine). The ship’s air group
should comprise up to 60 aircraft.
"Sublime" isn't it?
But if you get my drift, here IS the real problem with this representative
Speaking about the US Navy, which currently operates 11
aircraft carriers, the expert noted that the United States had an excessive
number of carrier-led groups but the availability of only one aircraft carrier
was a "deadlocked situation."
The issue is not a deadlocked
situation with Russia's sole and barely (sometimes) operational carrier
Kuznetsov—in this I agree with Polovinkin. My issue is in constant invoking of
US Navy's experience with carriers. This is wrong, since the only REAL interest
this experience should invoke is purely organizational and operational, not the
force structure whenever the talk is about one existing and, possibly, future
Russian Navy's carriers. And here is a single example of WHY realistically
Russia needs carriers as a NICHE system-- specifically in Mediterranean, apart
from Northern and Pacific Fleets. For starters, Polovinkin should learn the
latest news that the ranges of modern anti-shipping missiles are either equal
or greater than ranges modern carrier-based strike aircraft provide. The
dynamics of missile development today testifies to the fact that in the nearest
future (10-15 years) those missile ranges will only grow. Hell, they are
growing already. This moves carriers into the niche of what US Navy was doing
since 1950s—projecting carrier power against third-rate powers with barely any,
using modern parlance, A2/AD, forget full blown Sea Denial capabilities.
But here is the news: since 2011 due
to Obama's criminal actions (and inaction)—the whole of Maghreb and Middle
East got destabilized through the so called Arab Spring, and, as events in Syria
show, it requires a serious military (combined with other means) effort to
stabilize the situation and preserve political forces capable to run a country
and fight off armies of Jihadists (supported by the US, Europe and Gulf
satrapies) which now operate in every single country on the Southern coast of Mediterranean,
from Algeria, to Tunisia, to Syria. So, the question is—granted that Europe is
realistically militarily impotent and culturally (and gender-wise) confused, at
best, in reality suicidal—why not to have a "fire crew" in Med in
case one needs to prop up any political regime against terrorist Jihad forces?
This is precisely the case for having those pesky MiG-29Ks and Ka-52s on
station for immediate reaction to any Jihadis' advances. Hmm, what does this
remind me? Ah, yes—Fifth Operational Squadron of the Soviet Navy of 1970-1980s.
Are those disturbing events coming in Maghreb? Hell, they are already
happening. So, it is "power projection" after all. In the end,
Kuznetsov's deployment to Syria was ordered by Putin personally.
I omit here any discussion on the
possible Northern and Pacific Fleets' carriers—this is not the point—Russia's A2/AD and Sea Denial clout at those theaters of operations grew
exponentially since 2017 and, ironically, put the issue of carriers on the back-burner. But Mediterranean and what is coming there—a reality obvious to
anyone with even rudimentary forecasting apparatus—does, indeed, bring the
issue of future Russian aircraft carriers to the fore. As Libya and Syria, and,
in the end, Yugoslavia in 1999, with NATO gang-raping Serbia for the benefit of
Kosovo Jihadists and organized crime, showed it will be wise for Russia to have
full blown Mediterranean Operational Squadron back to the full strength and
that automatically means at least two aircraft carriers. And while Mr.
Polovinkin is very busy trying to promote Krylov Center's "perspective"
carrier, he should recall a simple military truism that the best ship is the
one you have now, as opposed to sometime in the future. That brings up the most
important issue in all of this: what will be that sensible compromise which will
allow both to develop and built those ships when needed (soon), with effective
technology, on a sensible budget within a sensible operational concept. What
they will be: CATOBAR, STOVL or whatever else is not for me to suggest. At least
MiG-29K is a very decent
aircraft and it does exist and it is a good place to start from.
|On Kuznetsov's Deck |
As for the rest, Polovinkin may
consider a simple fact that a squadron of MiG-31Ks with Kinzhals at Khmeimim Air
Base covers practically whole Mediterranean up to Mallorca against any
combination of threats (targets). Just saying. In the end, Russia is NOT an Imperial
power nor should she be a global policeman, but it becomes increasingly clear
that Russia's main geopolitical export today is political stability and this
product is in demand and the rate is going up daily.