However, completely modifying them into escort aircraft carriers would be worth considering.
They are driving a multirole concept for their new vessels... having a cheaper vessel with plenty of internal capacity that could be used for transport, or for aircraft, or as a landing ship would be interesting.
Basically remove any troop/vehicle carrying function, modify the deck and maybe even go with nuclear propulsion/catapults (if you want to go all in)
I would probably go nuke propulsion anyway... high initial costs, but operational costs and support would be greatly simplified.
With modular weapons and systems you could use the decks for troop transport, for fixed wing transport, for rotary wing transport... even container ship transport...
I am thinking more of airships for AWACS, which means cats are less necessary... even an air ship tender ship, or a mother ship for special forces operations with UAVs, helos and light armour...
Logic behind this would be the fact that they will be building at least 4 of these amphibious ships so by then they will have production worked out and it would be much quicker and cost effective to modify existing platform rather then develop now one from scratch.
It will also allow them to acquire more of them in less time and for less money than completely new model.
That what british "carriers" did in the Falkland war and they did very well. Without their fighters they would have lost all their ships.
They lost several civilian ships because they lacked EW systems to decoy AShMs... one of the ships lost held most of their helicopters and was a serious problem for the landed force.
Helicopters will help you land your troop but if you need to destroy a strategical bridge for exemple deep in enemy teritory protected by Long range SAM a squadron of Mig-29 will have a chance while helicopters won't.
A fixed target like a bridge would be better hit with a cruise missile... but I understand what you are trying to say... a Helicopter cannot fight a fixed wing fighter on anything like equal terms so fighter cover is necessary.
I just don't like the idea of trying to put everything on at once... having a landing ship with helos makes sense... taking helos off to put a token number of MiGs does not in my opinion.
However the idea of having two vessels... one with helos and troops and armour and another with all the decks full of aircraft... now that is interesting.
Used together with proper 60K ton carriers I think that is a good idea.
I disagree totally. If you add some Mig on it with a basic ski jump you add a big capability to your ship for a low cost. If you change it into a small carrier it would have the same limited capacities but for a astronomic cost. Better go fora 100kT class carrier in this case.
Adding a couple of MiGs to a Mistral type ship wont magically make it anything like a Kuznetsov, and will actually make it less like a Mistral in a bad way.
Leave the fighter cover to a real carrier, because you will need all the landing craft and helos you can get to the landing area.
Having another ship of the same design with all the levels filled with fighter aircraft and attack helos on the other hand becomes interesting... and we are talking fighters... anything to do with strike missions can be cruise missile jobs, though a few large UAVs could be deck launched to enter deep into enemy territory to keep an eye on enemy forces with a few MiGs flying escort to protect it from enemy fighters and SAMs.
In terms of recon and jamming the MiG-35 should have the electronics to do a good job as well as CAP.
In places like Somalia or Yemen there would be little indigenous resistance in terms of air power and any foreign aircraft would soon leave with the presence of Russian air power I would think.
BTW Russia will never need a 100K ton carrier.