I honestly don't think the programme is going anywhere at the moment and won't until the RuNavy really sits down with the other forces and the gov't and thrashes out exactly what their role is.
Even if they could wave a magic wand right now and have a brand new carrier of their choice ready for service there would be no point. they need to upgrade their navy and their support and infrastructure before they could even consider properly operating a new carrier.
Plans are for the mid 2020s onwards for production... that is more realistic.
Current thinking with 100-aircraft capacity seems to be less about a new doctrine, and more about "The Americans have got them, so we should too".
Nah, these wont be strike carriers like the US has, these will be air defence carriers... some of those aircraft will be UAVs.
The well known problem, as the article agrees, is that large carrier construction (>60,000ton) during the Soviet era was undertaken in Ukraine. The only Russian yard with any carrier experience whatsoever is Sevmash, which doesn't have the facilities for construction of supercarriers.
they are building and upgrading their shipyards all the time... there is one being built by the South Koreans in the Russian far east that will produce super tankers that should be able to handle large ships.
So if big carriers are a problem and the state of the Kuznetsov makes it urgent.. How about building new carriers that actually answers Russia's specific security issues rather than being the biggest and bestest everest?
The plans I have seen mention nothing about being the biggest... 60-70K ton at most.
Modifications could be made to provide a more capable and reliable platform within the basics of the existing design, much as the Kuznetsov itself is a more capable Kiev design.
New Russian vessels have standardisation at their core, it makes no sense to design a new vessel based on an existing vessel... especially when the new vessel wont enter service for another 15 years or so... there is plenty of time to design and develop.
* Swap conventional propulsion for two KN-3 reactors rather than design new, tried and tested from the Kirov class. Much more reliable, and greater range.
They have spent a lot of money and time developing new compact and powerful nuclear reactors for their new icebreakers and other large vessels.... they might want to use those.
* Steam catapults. The existing designs from the Ulyanovsk can be used/modified, saving time and cost. Greater aircraft flexibility from an existing hull design.
they have never had operational steam catapults, so it makes no sense to design some now.
EM catapults have a range of advantages over steam cats so why invent a flintlock when the percussion cap is already there...
* Delete the P-700s to manage costs and complexity.
A new carrier will likely have a few UKSK launchers... even just for land attack cruise missiles and anti sub weapons.
* Obviously, going with the latest design versions of sensor suites, using those of the Gorshkov class frigates where possible.
I suspect there will be a large cruiser sized sensor suite that can be used on carriers...
* Focus on operating drones alongside traditional aircraft. More drones can be carried in a given area than conventional aircraft and can loiter/patrol for longer. Drones allow a smaller carrier to do more.
I suspect both surface, underwater, and aerial drones will be carried and operated.
* Realistically, only three hulls need be built for a viable fleet. One each for the Pacific and Northern fleets, with the third a reserve "floater", assigned to either fleet as needed to cover maintinance or a crisis event.
An aircraft carrier has three states... operational, in dock getting upgrades, and training. With two ships you can guarantee at least one ship will be available by never having both vessels in dock at the same time, but with one... if it is in dry dock with its knickers around its ankles and something happens you wont be able to get it into service quickly.... with two the other vessel will either be in training or operational and ready... ideally you have three carriers with each in one state, so in an emergency you have two ships available.
Given that evolutionary designs are something of a tradition in Russia dating right back to the Soviet era, it seems interesting that the idea isn't currently being currently considered given the state of the Russian navy. Any thoughts/ideas?
they have gained a lot of experience with the K, why not put that to good use in developing a new replacement?
The Russian Navy doesn't need some strike force... they aren't trying to get the capability to attack anyone, what they want is the equivalent to the Russian air force... if the Russian Navy don't need carriers then the Russian army doesn't need an air force. It does and they do, but the Russian Navy will benefit from having air protection and eyes in the sky including manned and unmanned aircraft... with every ship carrying a UKSK launcher then long range land attack and anti ship attack can be performed by missiles from ships and subs... they don't need big heavy strike carriers like the US... some 60-70K ton carriers will be fine.