Russian Navy Thread

Discussion in 'The Russian Armed Forces' started by Drutten, May 17, 2013.

  1. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    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:
    [​IMG]

    And the bow:
    [​IMG]

    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:
    [​IMG]
    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:
    [​IMG]
    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).

    [​IMG]
    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. ;)
  2. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Interesting development: “Large anti-submarine ship of the Pacific fleet, “Admiral Panteleev”, has docked in the Cypriot port of Limassol.”


    Translation:
    MOSCOW, May 17. / ITAR-TASS /. The large anti-submarine ship / ASS / “Admiral Panteleev” Pacific Fleet / PF / today made ​​a routine business visit to the port of Limassol, Republic of Cyprus. This was reported by Itar-Tass Pacific Fleet spokesman Capt. 1st Rank Roman Martov.
    “Sailors of the Pacific Fleet were met on the pier by representatives of the Russian diplomatic corps and the Republic of Cyprus Ministry of Defence. Today there have been organized for the crew bus trips for shore leave in the city”, said Martov. According to him, on May 18 “Admiral Panteleev”, the flagship of the Russian ASS flotilla, will be visited by the Russian Ambassador to Cyprus, Vyacheslav Shumsky, and the Republic of Cyprus Minister of Defence, Fotis Fotiu. Distinguished guests on board will meet the commander, Rear Admiral Vadim Kulit, then for the delegation there is to be arranged a study tour and a meeting with the crew.
    “During the four-day visit, the Russian sailors will restock, get familiar with the local culture and sights of Limassol”, said Martov. He pointed out that that on May 15 ships of the Pacific Fleet had traversed the Suez Canal and entered the Mediterranean Sea, where the detachment has replaced the Black Sea Fleet. During his military service, the Pacific Fleet ships have sailed across the Pacific and Indian oceans, visited the Persian Gulf, the Gulf of Aden, the Arabian Sea and have undertaken business trips to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas and the Omani port of Salalah.
    End of translation.
  3. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    One should also mention on going development of the submarine fleet, with the Borei ballistic missile submarines now entering service and the very advanced Yasen class cruise missile submarine about to do so. There are also ambitious plans for conventional submarines.

    The Gorshkov class frigates are futuristic ships with carbonfibre hulls (unprecedented for ships of this size) and very advanced radar and electronics. Given what an advanced design it is, it is hardly surprising that development has been protracted. If the inevitable bugs are sorted out, it should make a big impact, providing Russia with a ship that is technically in advance and offering something like the capability of the US Navy's AEGIS class destroyers, though obviously smaller. The production know how and technology can then be used to build even more ambitious ships with plans for destroyers and nuclear powered cruisers. In the long term there are also plans for aircraft carriers.

    Whether any of this will happen is another matter. The Russian navy has an unhappy history of false dawns, with ambitious naval programmes being aborted because of political crises or changes in direction. Examples include the naval programmes of the 1909-14 period, those of the late 1930s, of the late 1940s/early 1950s and of the 1970s/1980s. In the meantime however the navy is getting advanced corvette classes that have greater potency than the frigates of the 1970s whilst it is sensibly hedging with the more conventional Admiral Grigorovich class frigate so that whatever happens a fleet of some effectiveness is being built.
  4. Moscow Exile

    Moscow Exile Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    [​IMG]


    The Russian Baltic Fleet has received its latest "invisible" corvette "Boikiy" (Бойкий - "Bold"; I reckon she'd be called H.M.S. Audacious if she were a Royal Navy warship), which, as reported above, is the third of such class to be commissioned. She has had her St. Andrew's Flag raised and is at present moored at the "Northern Wharf", St. Petersburg.

    All of such corvettes are armed with 100 mm universal artillery systems, anti-aircraft missile and artillery systems, supersonic missiles and automatic gun mounts. A Ka-27PL helicopter is also part of the corvette's air group weapons systems.

    No doubt another Russian vessel that will be duly labelled "rust bucket" by the Western media.
  5. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    It's quite interesting to compare developments in the US Navy with those in the Russian. The US seems to be building a navy with just two types of warship: aircraft carriers and AEGIS destroyers. Cruiser and frigate construction seems to have stopped whilst the US has never been very interested in corvettes. From what little I can tell the new Littoral Class multipurpose small warships seem to suffer from many problems and are beginning to look over ambitious and unduly complex for their size and role(s). I understand that they also put intense demands on their crews. They look like an obvious target for future budget cuts.

    In contrast to the US, which whether by accident or intention seems to be focusing on just two types of warship that are basically intended for oceanic warfare, Russia seems to be building (or planning to build) the full range of warships including small missile corvettes, corvettes, frigates, destroyers, nuclear powered cruisers and ultimately aircraft carriers. I suppose the reason is the more complex tasks the Russian navy has to carry out, with coastal protection being as or more important than power projection.
  6. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Indeed. The ship on your photo carries the pennant number 530 though, so that's the Steregushchiy herself and not Boikiy (532) or Soobrazitelny (531). Pointless correction, I know.

    I would say that power projection is of much lower priority than say maintaining important strategical assets (chiefly the fleet of SSBNs) and providing a big bunch of more close-to-home things to protect Russias vast stretches of coast, like light frigates, corvettes, attack subs, patrol boats and such.

    An American style "blue water" navy doesn't quite suit Russias needs. It's worth mentioning that the USSR didn't really pursue that idea either (save for that half-arsed attempt at a class of pure Nimitz-y supercarriers that found itself severely underfunded and eventually scrapped in the late 80's). Sure, they did and do keep many vessels designed for amphibious assault (landing ships/craft and a small number of VTOL carriers such as the old Kiev class and the upcoming Mistrals) and a few massive warships (like the Kirov and Slava class) but those are still more or less designed to operate in the vicinity of the country and not to lay waste over some remote hellhole on the other side of the planet. I guess they could be used for a limited tour de force if desired but it's nowhere near what a large part of the USN is designed to do.

    The Kuznetsov is quite an oddball in this context. She is not a "pure" carrier for starters, with lots of space dedicated to proper antiship arnament etc (hence the cruiser component), and she was meant to operate together with a sizable strike force, as was her sister ship (formerly Varyag, now she's in Chinese service as the Liaoning) and possibly several Kiev VTOL carriers and Orel supercarriers with their respective battle groups.

    Didn't quite turn out that way, though. I reckon the main reason the Russians have kept her active despite her being all "out of place" and awfully expensive to operate is to maintain their experience with proper ship-borne aviation. A good move, I'd say.

    After her planned refit and MiG-29K introduction she'll be pure a power projection vessel though, backed up by the other components of her future "CVBGski". I guess the situation at that point will be broadly similar to what we are seeing in the French Navy (in regards to power projection, that is), which also operates a sole proper carrier and a bunch of Mistrals. :) Then, in the post-2020 world Russia is eyeing out proper blue water supercarriers once again. But that's too far ahead to even speculate about.
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  7. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Dear Drutten,

    Thanks for this very interesting and informative comment.

    Do you think the Russians will ever build aircraft carriers? I know there's talk of it. If so presumably they would have a different configuration and role from the US carriers.
  8. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    They approached the matter quite differently from the Americans once before, as we all know. Most strikingly they gave up a whole lot of potential hangar space to provide for serious defensive and offensive weaponry, including big honkin' antiship missiles á la P-700 Shipwreck. American-style carriers have to rely on the rest of their battlegroup for proper defence (the carriers themselves tend to only carry limited anti-aircraft weapons and generally lack ASW capabilities altogether) and they rely on their aircraft for offensive weapons delivery.

    As far as new carriers go I firmly believe that they will commission new carriers in the future (in the 2020-2030 timeframe) and I would place my bets on a future Russian class of aircraft carriers being somewhat reminiscent of the Charles de Gaulle. That is, nuclear-powered CATOBAR carriers, albeit a tad smaller than the gargantuan American Nimitz- and future Gerald Ford-classes.

    The Soviet Orel class was supposed to have been massive nuclear-powered CATOBAR carriers, but that entire project was scrapped as I mentioned. The Kuznetsov and her sister ship stuck with STOBAR (with the skijump rather than catapults) because she used conventional boilers that didn't quite provide the oomph needed for steam catapults to function reliably in the Arctic ocean where the Northern Fleet is stationed and where everything freezes solid all the time...

    The Russians have plenty of experience with carrier catapults though, make no mistake. They operated steam catapults at terrestrial installations for a long time and investigated the matter carefully, the decision to simply skip the catapults for the Kuznetsov was thus an informed one. The problems that entails are all too obvious though, planes are often forced to operate with reduced fuel and reduced general payloads, so catapults tend to be preferable.

    The future in carrier catapults are electromagnetic ones. We're pretty much talking railguns here, though the projectile never leaves the barrel so to speak. :) The Russians have expressed interest in this, as have many others (electromagnetic catapults will be used on the American Gerald Ford-class, for example) and I think they'll trial this technology rather soon in fact, for use on a future class of Russian carriers. In fact I've read something about just that somewhere, though I can't find it now.

    That said, it's still highly speculative. Give it another two to three years and I think we can start discussing it again, by that time more definitive information should be out rather than the vague things we've heard to date.
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  9. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Drutten likes this.
  10. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Media now reports that the Russian-built stern of the future Vladivostok LHD has been safely towed to the French shipyards in Saint-Nazaire and that the joining of the two halves will commence shortly.

    Bow section and island being floated out in France:
    [​IMG]

    Russian-built stern section en route through the English channel a few days ago, towed by a Dutch tug:[​IMG]

    According to a RIA Novosti report dated about a month back, Borisov said that the joining and everything should be completed by mid-October, after which the whole package will once again be towed back to Russia for the final touch-ups and systems installation. Entry into service is predicted for Q2 2014!

    In other news, the two first Grigorovich-class frigates for the Black Sea fleet are approaching their launch dates. Here's a photo of Admiral Essen and Admiral Grigorovich (I touched upon these vessels in a previous post):
    [​IMG]
    Still in their primers, but work seems to have been sped up.

    Here in Sweden we had an unusual visit early June. The Steregushchiy corvette came sailing in and anchored itself in the middle of the Stockholm stream, an eyecatcher for sure!

    [​IMG]

    As the Dark Empire ruthlessly laid siege to our beloved capital, civilians were let on board for a quick tour and the ship's own band entertained people on the shore:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    Oh the horror! (Steregushchiy photos (C) J Lundqvist)

    On a side note, no major media outlets said a word about this. On the other hand there were plenty of articles and columns about how Russia is clearly eyeing out potential invasion victims and how Sweden absolutely needs to join NATO to save our butts from this inevitable attack. I'm sorry, I just find it a bit bizarre because at the same time the Swedish Armed Forces are conducting joint drills with the Russians and organising friendly visitations back and forth (like the one above).

    Am I missing something crucial that the MSM has a better grip on? :eek:
  11. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    That was fast.

    [​IMG]
  12. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

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    Modular construction tends to be that way; sections can be built all over the country, and only a couple of docks need to be big enough for the final assembly; this was another tired media piece of hackery some years ago, that Russia could not build big ships because they had no dockyards which would take such large hulls. Nonsense - where do they think the KIROV's were built? But modular construction takes advantage of smaller yards as well.
  13. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Very true. The Admiralty shipyards in St. Petersburg have facilities that can accomodate vessels up to 260 meters in length, and up to 70,000 metric tons (shipyard slips more or less aircraft carrier-sized). I do not know status of the new facilities on Kotlin Island right now but if I recall correctly they were set on building some pretty decent facilities there as well.

    Regarding Vladivostok, well, let there be contact:
    [​IMG]

    And a little photo-update on the aforementioned Gorshkov frigate here:
    [​IMG]

    I can't tell how much work remains until proper sea trials but apparently mooring trials will commence soon.
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  14. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Interesting news: next year, carrier Admiral Kuznetsov will be taken to Sevmash to begin its refit and modernization program, which will last 5 years:
    http://flot.com/news/navy/?ELEMENT_ID=152354
    The article doesn't detail what will be upgraded, but considering the time it will take, it will be deep.
    While I think Russia doesn't really need an aircraft carrier, I think it is a good idea to modernize it in order to keep its international status as one of the few countries with this kind of equipment. Also, an order was placed to procure MiG-29K to replace the aging Su-33.
  15. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Finally a solid statement regarding the refit!

    And yes, deep it is. Sevmash has undoubtedly gained a lot of experience when it comes to refitting large warships/carriers after their gargantuan Gorshkov/Vikramaditya project.

    According to scattered reports over the past couple of years, the refit will include:
    • General improvements of structural elements, onboard facilities, quarters etc.
    • Removal of most/all offensive armament (which she carries a lot of, technically being the cruiser the VMF calls her).
    • Increased hangar space, made possible by the above.
    • Installation of up-to-date electronics, radars and other sensors, combat management systems etc.
    • Replacing or refurbishing the turbines.
    • Replacing the troublesome boilers with new ones.
    • Introduction of the MiG-29K/KUB as the main aerial asset.
    Rumour has it that it might also include:
    • Replacing the aforementioned boilers with a set of nuclear reactors, akin to those in the Kirov battlecruisers.
    • Adding a fourth take-off position with a deck catapult on the angled flight deck (the three extant ones make use of the ski-jump).
    If she recieves reactors, it makes Russia the only country besides France and the US to operate nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and indeed it places the VMF up there with the Royal Navy and the Marine Nationale in terms of general capabilities (and interestingly enough they also share a class of major modern warships with the French). A pretty classy group.

    No more "Soviet ghosts rusting away in Murmansk" (though that's been an untrue assessment for years now, still it remains a widely known "fact").
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2013
  16. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

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    I wonder if removal of her offensive armament will mark a turn toward the integrated Carrier Task Group concept most often associated with the United States Navy. In that vision, the Carrier also is very lightly armed with self-defense weaponry only, barring missiles she may carry as reloads for the task group, while her protection is provided by screening destroyers and frigates. The Carrier usually shares the center of the circle with a tanker or two. This would call for a fairly significant commitment of ships; you need at least four frigates or destroyers to form a screen, while the USN typically uses twice that or more, in overlapping rings, as well as a picket or two ahead of the group and one or two submarines under it.

    I believe Russia needs a Carrier, for power projection. It's true that Russia seems to have no serious aspirations toward regional conquest and subjugation, so its use of sea power would be mostly for national defence. However, when there is a crisis like Syria, the first thing many analysts look to is where the American Carriers are. A Carrier in the vicinity suggests the United States might be preparing to get involved, and it figures in all the planning and analysis of possible scenarios. A Russian Carrier Group in the Med a couple of weeks ago would have made the situation look much different. Carriers are expensive to buy, to operate and to maintain, but there is nothing quite like them for bringing multi-disciplinary force to any region that abuts the sea. Without a Carrier, any Russian force can hope to influence only the sea lanes leading in and out of a disputed region, and nothing ashore much beyond gun range. And that carries its own risks, owing to sited shore batteries.

    The GORSHKOV frigates are a beautiful design; perhaps they might be well-suited to Carrier escort. Do you know how many they are planning to build?
  17. Drutten

    Drutten Collegiate Secretary (10th class)

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    Yes. After the refit, granted that it will pursue the goals that have previously been stated, she will need to be integrated in a "CVBGski" of sorts. Lacking serious offensive and defensive capabilities* of her own other than what her jets and helicopters can provide, a proper battlegroup will have to be formed around her and I firmly believe this is exactly what they want. It's really a fail-safe solution -- either they aim for the stars in the future and use her as a stepping stone toward even more ambitious carrier operations or they stick to this, a single but very capable carrier battle group that (together with certain other naval and aerial assets) provides all the power projection capability they will realistically need for the forseeable future.

    There have been many indications that multiple "blue water" carrier groups are being considered for the future. Post-refit she fulfills her role as a bridging measure should that be the case. Even if those plans do not materialise, she remains a viable asset on her own.

    *Other than CIWS of course, which is a bit of a VMF specialty.

    There are four Gorshkov frigates under construction right now. Their development and production has been a quite turbulent ordeal and that makes me think that there will be new vessels popping up soon based on these. That's how it went down with Steregushchy and Grigorovich. It has been a challenging couple of years for Russian shipyards, overhauling their enterprises and shifting toward production of modern warships, and most of the vessels we've seen launched so far have been sort of "in-betweens" that have, as the turbulence has settled, given rise to new, more refined classes that are under development and/or construction right now.

    Surely a pimped-up Kuznetsov will be accompanied by something along those lines.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2013
  18. Carlo

    Carlo Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    This is a relic of the Cold War. Why would Russia need to defend Syria or any other country? I think it is good that Russia makes a great diplomatic effort to avoid an illegal attack and use other methods (like intelligence sharing or selling defensive weapons, for example), but direct intervention in the conflict is nonsense. Russia is not and should not be the "alternative" (that is, opposed to the US) police force of the world - it is just a normal country, with no bigger claims and aspirations than the respect of international law.
    I really hope the plans to build new aircraft carriers in Russia don't materialize. Keeping and modernizing the Kuznetsov is one thing: it is not expensive beyong the current Russian economic capabilities and gives prestige, even though it is not really necessary. To have huge CVs groups would be prohibitely expensive for the Russian economy in a foreseeable future, and like I said it makes no sense for the current international aspirations that this country has.
  19. Reggie Kabaeva

    Reggie Kabaeva Office Registrar (13th class)

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    Well, the US level of defense spending is totally unsustainable. I think - a lot sooner than people realize - that the US will have to grind its military empire to a halt and shutter those bases. I think you have a point Carlo about out of control defense spending and I also think the American people will find that they will actually be a lot SAFER without it. You simply can't infinitely go on borrowing money to police the world & smashing countries who refuse to take orders from you, especially when you consider that their top financier (China) is fed up with it now that the US military juggernaut is using the so-called "Asia pivot" in a futile attempt to contain Chinese power and antagonize them. It seems to me that Russia already has a pretty realistic defense budget given their size and interest - ditto for China. Russia has the most advanced nuclear deterrent in the world, so no other military power will even think of invading them - I don't care how many carriers they have. To adopt the US method where you go deep in debt spending 600-700 billion annually to operate several hundred military bases and a dozen carrier groups doesn't seem realistic or sustainable for ANY country - not even America. As Mark has pointed out before, much of this is due to the defense lobby in the US which has completely taken over the US congress leading to these bloated defense budgets. That being said, I do think we will see more Russian carriers. I'm predicting we'll likely see two by 2025. SFReader over on the Kremlin Stooge blog says the Russian navy wants six, but I don't think that's realistic given the costs involved. The Kuznetsov and two other carriers will probably be more than they'll ever practically need.
  20. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

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    It should have escaped no one's notice that much of the western world is behaving as though it is still the cold war. I'm not suggesting for a minute that Russia start trying to match the USA Carrier Group for Carrier Group. However, a Carrier Group fills a power-projection role that no other combination can, and the naval presence in the Mediterranean of only 4 USN frigates - advanced though they may be - reflects a relaxation of force because nobody else who might be construed as "opposition" has a Carrier. China has one, of course, but newly-commissioned and nowhere near worked-up to readiness to conduct operations.

    Russia does not have an interest in "protecting" Syria. However, at the same time it very much does not want Assad overthrown by another flip-flop army backed by western interests, and an Islamic fundamentalist government to come to power, not to mention the immediate pivot to Iran that will be the likely subsequent action by the west. Moving a Carrier Group into the area makes people careful, because it affects every warfare discipline - the Army normally does not worry itself unduly about what the Navy does so long as the soldiers remain out of range of Naval Gunfire Support (NGS) missions from seaward, but that thinking has to be altered drastically when the Navy brings a bunch of ground-attack aircraft along with it. Military leaders are taught, "Think capabilities, not intentions. Not would they do it, but could they?"

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