And here's a thread for news and discussion about the Russian naval forces. The Mistral affair has made quite a few rounds in the news over the past couple of years, mostly due to the fact that such a massive "West-East" arms deal itself is a rather intriguing development of the post-Cold War world. This has undoubtedly generated a lot of mixed feelings. For instance, we've had senator John McCain being quite vocal about it, as was Ros-Lehtinen. Oh, and then we had Dmitry Rogozin complaining about the weather. Recently it was announced that the options for two additional ships to be built solely in Russia under license (in contrast to the current Russo-French joint venture) were likely to be scrapped. But fret not! The construction of the two first ones has continued as planned and the first Russian ship of the class, the Vladivostok, got its island put into place just the other day: And the bow: The two amphibious assault ships/helicopter carriers Vladivostok and Sevastopol will, once built, probably both serve in the Pacific Fleet of the Russian Far East. The third Steregushchiy-class stealthy corvette for the Baltic Fleet, the Boikiy, set sail for trials earlier this week: Flotprom article: http://flotprom.ru/news/index.php?ELEMENT_ID=142463 She will soon join the two active ships of the same(ish*) class, Steregushchiy and Soobrazitelnyy, in the Baltic Fleet. In early 2014 a fourth ship is planned to join the Baltic Fleet, the Stoikiy. These corvettes (or light frigates according to some classifications, as they are quite large for being corvettes) are among the most modern surface ships in service in any Russian fleet and as such they have all the bells and whistles you'd expect in a modern surface combatant, including extensive use of "stealthy" shapes, materials and such. Other similar modern Russian ships with stealth features include the Buyan, Buyan-M and Gepard class corvettes/frigates destined for the Caspian Flotilla and the Gremyashchy class corvettes for the Northern Fleet. *There are some minor differences between them and their Navy project names differ accordingly, from pr. 20380 to 20381. Furthermore, an even later variety currently planned will be labelled pr. 20382 and sport additional refinements. In other news, the introduction of the stealthy frigate Admiral Gorshkov is long overdue but she could possibly be cleared for sea trials before years end if they manage to stick to the current schedule. The Gorshkov is the lead ship of her class (pr. 22350) and the first of a planned initial batch of four. As such, she's also about to become the largest surface warship to be freshly commissioned since Soviet times (that is, not counting other re-commisionings). Here's a fairly recent (yesterday) photo of her: Work seems to be continuing rather slowly as usual, but the Severnaya shipyards recently announced that they've finally gotten their stuff in order and is currently going full steam at production of this new class of frigates: http://flotprom.ru/news/?ELEMENT_ID=144560 Another similar class of vessels under construction is the Admiral Grigorovich-class of stealthy frigates (pr. 11356M) that will serve in the Black Sea Fleet from 2015 and onwards. One of these is named Admiral Essen, after the Imperial admiral Nikolai Essen. Another one of these frigates was suggested to be named Admiral Kolchak, one of the principal anti-Bolshevik leaders during the Russian Revolution/Civil War. Whatever came out of this I don't know, but the very notion remains an indication of just how much times have changed. One last piece of news. As most people know, the "heavy aircraft carrying cruiser" Admiral Kuznetsov has long operated an aging airwing of Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker-D carrier-borne fighters. These machines have recieved a sort of MLU that has allowed them to stay in the game so far but the carrier itself is about to get heavily modernised and to remain a viable asset, it needs new planes. Resuming Su-33 production was deemed unfeasible long ago and Sukhois facilities have since shifted production toward more modern aircraft, none of which are carrier optimised nor can be made such at an acceptable cost (though in the far future, a naval aircraft derived from the PAK-FA is being considered, for service onboard a future generation of carriers). The answer to this apparent problem came when India threw Mikoyan a big bunch of money and ordered a batch of 16 MiG-29K/KUB carrier-borne fighters (that are now being put into service) which gave the Russian Navy an opportunity to "tag along" as the production lines were already being set up by Mikoyan to serve the Indians. Whether or not to do this was debated back and forth for quite some time and one contradictory news report after another regarding a possible Russian deal kept arriving at a steady pace for years. In 2012 it finally seemed like the deal was sealed. The MiG-29K of today is quite different from the "original" MiG-29K (MiG bureau designation 9-31) that flew on various carrier trials in the 90's and for a while was considered for naval service alongisde the Su-33 at that time. In fact, the modern K/KUB variety (9-41/9-47) has much more in common with Mikoyans most recent fighter - the MiG-29M/MiG-35 "4.5 generation" Fulcrum-F (9-61/9-67 etc), which is now being considered for Russian Air Force service together with modern Sukhoi jets. Whether or not the nimble and quite modern MiG-29K is better suited than the larger Su-33 for STOBAR operations on the Kuznetsov is anyone's guess but I would guess that it does, in fact, amount to a serious capability boost. If not for the more modern aircraft itself then simply because of its larger numbers (24-28 MiG-29Ks will be carried, versus 14-16 Su-33s before). MiG-29KUB in Russian colours, onboard the Indian carrier INS Vikramaditya (previously the Admiral Gorshkov helicopter cruiser, extensively rebuilt and modernised to the point of it being more of a more modern little sister of the Kuznetsov). Oh, and a bunch of submarines are also being built.