Tsavo Lion wrote:
IMO, the bottom line is: the assault ships/small carriers with STOVLs will save a lot of $ & time over building more CV/Ns that the RF can do without, esp. since Adm. K will be refitted & serve a few decades more; it's not that outdated & will be on a par with Chinese 001 aka CV-17. If need be, a few Tu-95s &/ Tu-160s can be dispatched to the other side of the World to show the flag, as they had already in Cuba, Venezuela, & Indonesia; the E. Med. Sea (not to mention the Indian Ocean) can be reached via Turkey &/ Iran, Iraq & Syria, avoiding the N. Atlantic. Besides, a new base or bases may soon be established in Sudan on the Red Sea: https://orientalreview.org/2017/12/05/heres-russia-might-set-red-sea-base-sudan/
It's is an economical impossibility to design and build an advanced STOVL aircraft with an handful of dimes.
If Su-57's development costs estimates are only a little close to truth, it costed around 20 billion dollars.
Even assuming a best case scenario where some of related technologies could easily transplanted into a STOVL project without major and costly adaptations (and it is an assumption that most of the time proves itself false), it should be assumed at the very least development's costs around half that amount.
So we are speaking of spending around or more than 10 billions dollars only to develop such STOVL aircraft.
Upon those costs, it should be added that you cannot build a dwarf LHD Mistral's type: even ignoring that there are today zero data available about size, weight, fuel consumption and the likes of an hypothetical STOVL aircraft, you need to design and build an LHD far larger than the 20.000 tons a Mistral has as full load displacement.
Even without exceeding 45.000 tons as an America LHA (by the way, costing more than three billions dollars apiece, not exactly cheap), you should go north of 30.000 tons, and have proportional costs.
Even a Wasp LHD, at around 40.000 tons, costs more than 1,5 billion dollars, the double of a Mistral LHD.
Even the australian Camberra class LHDs have costed almost 1,5 billion dollars each one.
OK, so we are assuming Russia's developing and building costs are half of typical western ones.
So let's say Russia is going to design and build three pretty large LHDs, with the perspective to employ a future STOVL fighter, displacing somewhat more than 30.000 tons.
It would cost what? 800 millions dollars each? So, the sum is already 2,4 billions dollars for three ships.
Then more than 10 billions to develop (without building costs) such STOVL fighter.
We have already spent more than 12 or 13 billions dollars without having built a single operative STOVL fighter.
For comparison, a Queen Elizabeth carrier, displacing around 70,000 tons, has costed the british around 5 billions dollars.
Following the same assumptions, a russian counterpart displacing around 70,000 tons (actually larger than the Kuznetsov) should cost 2,5 billion dollars.
Let's say Russia goes for nuclear propulsion adding 500 million dollars to carrier's costs.
So two very capable nuclear powered carriers, displacing each around 70,000 tons, should cost in total 6 billion dollars. There are still between 6 and 7 billion dollars to develop a naval variant of an existing advanced fighter and possibly actually building it.
Even assuming a very costly adaptation, let's say five billions, you have stll one, probably more than two billions dollars to actually build some of those fighters.
Let's say unitary costs past development are almost 100 million dollars each, you could still have at the end of the game two 70,000 tons nuclear powered aircraft carrier, a naval derivative of a top of the line fighter developed, and at least a full squadron already equipped, vs three LHD gas turbines powered displacing maybe 35,000 tons each, a STOVL aircraft with hopefully good enough performances but still zero operative aircrafts built.