Since the end of the 2000s, the Russian army has planned to develop helicopters that transport amphibious assault ships nationwide under a program similar to that of the South Korean class Dokdo and the French class Mistral.
In August 2009, the head of the Russian General Staff, Nikolai Makarov, suggested that Russia enter into a joint project with France to develop these warships, first buying a carrier of French builders and building three more in Russia itself. Makarov said that while Russia could undertake such a program and build these warships at a similar level at the national level, doing so would require a delay of ten years to develop the necessary technologies, so a joint program was preferable to provide to the previous dates.
In an attempt to support its naval industry, French President Nicolas Sarkozy pushed for the construction of the first two warships in France and the second two in Russia, which will make extensive use of Russian components. Then two more would be built in Russia under a joint venture, which would provide Russia with a fleet of four light carriers. These warships were French Mistral class ships, and the joint program was aimed at considerably strengthening Russia’s military shipbuilding capability, which after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of shipyards in Ukraine had marked itself considerably.
France will continue to cancel the contract to provide Mistral-class warships to Russia after its completion, which was a response to increased tensions between Moscow and the Western Bloc due to a clash of interests in Ukraine in 2014. Russia has worked since then to develop the capabilities to build aircraft carrier warships nationwide, and according to the deputy commander in chief of the Navy, Viktor Bursuk, the country is scheduled to begin construction of the first warship by 2020.
The official said that two variants of amphibious assault ships were planned, which he called “universal amphibious assault ship” and “large amphibious assault ship”. According to Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov and several other sources of the Russian defence ministry, the first of the warships are ready to enter service in the early 2020s. The decision to develop two types of transporters in parallel reflects faithfully the approach of the Japanese Navy, developing the Izumo class and the lightest Hyuga class and installing two of each ship in service.
Assuming a size similar to that of the ships of the Mistral Class, the new Russian airline will be by far the largest surface of warships that the country’s Navy has commissioned since the fragmentation of the Soviet Union. Since then, Russia has largely focused on the expansion of its attack fleets and ballistic submarines and has yet to build surface ships larger than a frigate for its fleet, relying heavily on the modernization of its great destroyers. of the Soviet era.
With only a limited number of destroyers available, it is likely that the new Russian carriers will be heavily armed to reduce the need for a large escort fleet, as will the Kuznetsov class of the country and the Soviet-class Kiev transports.
It also remains a possibility, particularly for the ‘large amphibious assault ship’ to which the vice-commander in chief refers, that Russia might well develop a new fixed-wing aircraft to operate from its warships. With these ships potentially approaching the size of the Japanese class Izumo or even the warships themselves of the American class of the United States, this remains a considerable possibility.
Just as the United States developed the F-35B with short takeoff vertical landing (STOVL) to operate from its own amphibious assault ships, so did the Soviet Union before developing the attack fighter Yak-38 Vertical Takeoff and Landing ( VTOL) to operate their own Kiev-class vessels, which lacked tracks completely. These aircraft served until the year of the Soviet disintegration when the most advanced fighter Yakovlev 141 VTOL was also cancelled with four prototypes built.
The possibility of a resurrection of the Yak-141 program, or a derivative program that makes use of similar technologies, remains a considerable possibility for the Russian Navy to equip its new carriers, allowing it to deploy a greater force of wing aircraft. fixed that they transport warships without the costs of developing and operating a ship the size of Kuznetsov, Ulaynovsk or SHOTRM ships.
If the development of new airlines for the Russian Navy will herald a renaissance in the country’s shipbuilding and lead to the commissioning of destroyers and other large surface warships in the future, it remains to be seen.