Russia Has an Idea for a New Kind of Aircraft Carrier, but It’s a Real Gamble

 In China, GDI, Russia, Defense, Air

Key point: It could make his­to­ry.

Russia says it is build­ing the world’s first cata­ma­ran air­craft car­ri­er.

Russia’s light air­craft car­ri­er will fea­ture a semi-cata­ma­ran hull, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Krylov Scientific Center told Russian news agency TASS (see the trans­la­tion and a model of the design here).

“The project is dis­tin­guished by the under­wa­ter part of a semi-cata­ma­ran form,” he said. “Catamaran actu­al­ly means two hulls united by a plat­form. It has a wide deck which is impor­tant for an air­craft car­ri­er. The design adds flight deck space on which the number of air­craft depends. As a result, a medium-dis­place­ment ship can carry a full-fledged air wing.”

“The essence of the car­ri­er is below the water­line,” he added.

The light car­ri­er will dis­place about 40,000 to 45,000 tons, accord­ing to TASS. That’s less than half the dis­place­ment of a U.S. Ford-class car­ri­er. It will be about 1,000-feet long, with a max­i­mum speed of 28 knots using gas-tur­bine propul­sion and an at-sea endurance of 60 days.

The vessel will carry an air wing of 24 to 28 Su-33 and MiG-29K), four air­borne early warn­ing air­craft and about a dozen Ka-27 heli­copters. Again, that’s about half the air com­ple­ment of a U.S. air­craft car­ri­er. The ship will be armed with Pantsir-ME anti-air­craft mis­siles, as well as anti-sub­ma­rine weapons and elec­tron­ic war­fare equip­ment.

TASS describes the light car­ri­er’s mis­sion as main­tain­ing “combat sus­tain­abil­i­ty of navy forces and groups in blue and green [coastal] waters by pro­vid­ing air and mis­sile defense and destroy­ing air, sur­face, under­wa­ter and coastal tar­gets.”

But why a cata­ma­ran design instead of a con­ven­tion­al flat-top or ski-jump car­ri­er? “Catamarans offer the advan­tages of reduced drag which permit cata­ma­rans to attain speeds not pos­si­ble with a mono­hull and/or the option of being equipped with less pow­er­ful and there­fore less expen­sive engines,” accord­ing to GlobalSecurity.org. “Because of their rel­a­tive­ly great length in rela­tion to their width, a cata­ma­ran is able to travel at high speed and has excel­lent lat­er­al sta­bil­i­ty.”

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But there are dis­ad­van­tages to a cata­ma­ran. “As is well known to those skilled in the marine arts, cata­ma­rans suffer from the seri­ous dis­ad­van­tage that they are con­sid­er­ably less stable in rough seas and from a propen­si­ty for sub­marin­ing their for­ward hulls into large head seas which can result in the for­ward end of the hull ‘dig­ging in’ and the vessel flip­ping end for end,” GlobalSecurity says.

Michael Peck is a con­tribut­ing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook. This first appeared in 2018.

Image: Flickr.

Source: National Interest

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