3- Can steam catapults work in the arctic?
No point in wasting time and money developing steam catapults today... they are inferior to the potential of EM cats, and most importantly technology developed creating steam catapults is not useful... technology created developing EM cats would be very valuable in all sorts of areas.
Not for long before having maintenance & safety issues. Steam will add moisture on the flight deck leading to ice buildup.
Ice build up has always been a problem in arctic waters anyway and could be dealt with, but the fundamental problem remains that a steam cat is not worth developing now... it wont be any easier or quicker or cheaper than EM cats would (for Russia who has never operated one on a ship before), so it makes sense to invest in an EM cat instead.
MiG-29k/35 in 2030s? like investing in frame from 80s? 50 years old design? ekhm doesn't look too promising for me. Recently there was 10 years from the first flight of Su-57 and no Su-57k on horizon. Yet I hope VSTOL is still in development. In 30s should be on table
It is likely that even in the 2030 period the French will still be operating Rafale and the US will be operating the F-18 which are contemporaries of the MiG-29/35.
A VSTOL would be an enormous step backwards... a navalised Su-57 or a new medium 5th gen fighter based on the MiG make rather more sense. There is plenty of time to decide because the carrier itself will take a decade to get made and anywhere near service anyway.
Thats to me most intriguing part. Ka-31 is the cheapest but functionally the worst option for AWACS. Lower ceiling then E-2 10,500m vs 3,500m for Ka-31. Mission time 2,5hrs for both but E-2 can be refueled and fly 5 hours on mission.
The extra height is irrelevant... the Ka-31 can see to sea level out to 250km... operating at 10K altitude wont change the distance it can see to... it would just make it visible to other platforms from further away.
Another factor you ignore is that a spread out surface group will have lots of ships with helipads where the Ka-31 can land and refuel without having to fly back to the carrier and being smaller and lighter and rather cheaper you could operate half a dozen of them and position them around the carrier group with a corvette or frigate nearby with a heli pad to keep them in the air...
It is not ideal obviously, but certainly better than nothing.
Even with EM cats they will likely still use them...
Investing in (never finished) Yak-44 is like restart the 50 years old design. The new platform for 2030s? US BTW USN has just started replacing own Grumman C-2 Greyhound with tiltrotors. Which do not require any catapult. C-2 is same airframe as Grumman E-2 Hawkeye AWACS.
An airship could operate at enormous altitudes continuously for months at a time with no need for a catapult and could be fitted with antenna arrays that are enormous too. Its lack of speed is not really an issue because with flight speeds of 100km per hour even a conventional airship can move with any carrier group.
The technology needed for EM cats would be useful for developing long range artillery and for electric powered propulsion systems etc etc the investment in EM cats wont be wasted... unlike money invested in tilt rotors and VSTOL fighter aircraft.
It would be interesting to see ho thins will develop on US/NATO side
Interesting but not particularly relevant.
P.S. how do you know that no Su-57K will be developed?
The new carrier will not start trials (in the best case) before 2030. There is plenty of time for it.
I remember in the 1970s the models showing brand new Soviet carrier designs had MiG-23s on them... when we saw the fixed wing carrier it had Su-27 and MiG-29s on it... they are not stupid... they will plan for aircraft and if they have to make aircraft to operate from the carriers then those aircraft will be adapted to work.
Unlike US and western aircraft carriers Russian ones don't require a catapult to launch fighter aircraft because their fighter aircraft are expected to be used as fighters rather than multirole aircraft so the requirement for weapon loads is much less. A full air to air missile and jammer pod load out is small compared with an air to ground loadout.
The cats for the new carriers will be for AWACS platforms... manned or unmanned... new or based on old... their work on brand new radars might mean their new AWACS platform has tiny lightweight radar arrays that can be fitted to smaller lighter aircraft... a scaled up more powerful Ka-226T that can operate at 7km altitude for instance could be an option... they might be able to mount the new antenna arrays on existing aircraft skin so a MiG-35 might have front and rear facing radar antenna and engine side wall mounted antenna for 360 degree scanning so it can be used as an AWACS platform... they could fill in the centre location between the engines with a low power turbofan engine... the aircraft could take off normally with two main engines accelerating the aircraft and climbing up to 7 or 8 thousand metres altitude and then the centreline cruise engine could start up and the FOD doors over the two main engines could close to minimise drag and it could loiter on this low power turbofan engine for 7 or 8 hours... buddy refuelling could extend the amount of time it spends on station, or it could be replaced when needed...
Anyways there would be no point in developing catapults and building a 75000tons carrier if you only plan to use tiltrotors, helicopters and stovl aircrafts.
That is the trap... we have VSTOL fighters and helicopters and tiltrotors so instead of a 75K ton carrier we have a 20K ton helicopter carrier like the Hermes which is much much less capable than a real carrier.
A false economy.
But those who support this should also be suggesting that Su-35s and Su-30s should be withdrawn and replaced with cheaper lighter MiG-29s and MiG-35s... they do the same job but the smaller lighter aircraft cost less to operate...
[qutoe]if Russians go for catapults there will be much more sense in investing into EM catapult. Less mechanically complex, reduced crew requirements and more starts per minute. No problems with icing of condensed steam . [/quote]
And technology that can be used in other areas...
Extending range for artillery guns for instance...
it is upgraded 80s design in plain words. It is a good stopgap but it doesn't really looking like a perspective fighter to counter US/NATO 6th gen fighters. For Kuz it woulds make sense as Kuz is back soon. OK relatively soon in line.
For now it makes sense... it is capable and affordable... and the 6th generation Russian fighters that replace it don't exist yet anyway.
I dont but about carrier there were a lot of discussions in Russian media sphere since 2014. But nothing wrt to Su-57k really. Only 2-3 times mentioned VSTOL development since 2017 (AFAIR)
R-37 being compatible with all the new Russian fighters... Su-57, Su-35, MiG-35 and of course MiG-31, but we have only ever seen it on MiG-31s and mentioned for Su-57... but now we see it on Su-35... how long before we see it on MiG-35?
2) And US will use E-2 till the 2030s when next gen will appear. V-22 is replacing C-2 for a reason. USN has 90-100ktons CVNs with catapults yet replaces C-2 with V.22. There must be advantage I guess.
Maintenance is usually the excuse... the F-18 replaced the F-14 because it was "multirole" and cheaper to operate and maintain... which is of course bullshit in terms of multirole because they specifically did not upgrade the F-14 with a lot of things like AMRAAM to make it obsolete so it would be replaced... I suspect the company that makes the C-2 no longer exists and they can't make any more but the maker of the V-22 wants the job so it is creating work by developing a replacement where none was really needed.
Ironic that the F-15 was taken out of production so the F-16 and then the F-35 could be made in larger numbers to replace them... now they are talking about putting the F-15 back in to production... ironic... the F-35 was supposed to save money
3) UK from the other hand has 2 70k CVs without catapults and VSTOL ;-)
They also went from fixed wing carriers with cats to the Hermes vstol carrier... it was not a military decision... it was an accountants decision because every time the British military are sent out to do a task the first thing the british government does when they get back is cut their budget to offset the cost of munitions and the war.
Not a good model to follow.... any brit will tell you that.
Their life will be extended till 30s but it is already legacy tech. And if RuN is going to use upgraded 80s designs (MiG-35, Yak-44) then they will invest into yesterday's tech vs US tomorrow's tech.
Aircraft technology in terms of design and materials and manufacturing has moved on since the 1970s... basing a design on a model from the 1970s does not mean it will be a 1970s design, but if you believe that then that would be a very good argument against VSTOL fighters.
If F-35 represents US tomorrows tech then Russia is in an excellent position because American future tech is crap... going for tilt rotors sounds to me like they have reached rock bottom and are still digging.
They could adopt the Mi-38 with ~2x Ka-31 ceiling (6,500 m) & range:
Range and altitude are not critical for AWACS... its purpose is not to look for targets thousands of kms away... it is to detect low flying and sea surface threats early so they can be engaged earlier and quicker and with coordination.
The most likely replacement for the MiG-35 on Russian carriers would be the Su-57 with folding wings. Should be a straight forward upgrade.