Now that Vladimir Putin has signaled that he wants Russia to have a new aircraft carrier, officials are working hard to realize that project. But their efforts highlight Moscow’s problems: the new one will be a copy of earlier Soviet designs, and it won’t go to sea until 2030 at the earliest.
The fate of the Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only remaining aircraft carrier that is now in drydock for extensive refitting and possible forced retirement after the recent extensive fire, has long been the subject of bitter reflection by Russians concerned about their country’s naval capacity and mirth among observers of the Russian scene.
Two sources in Russia’s naval yards have told TASS that the future aircraft carrier, which will be nuclear powered, will not represent a breakthrough but rather will be built according to the designs worked up for a Soviet nuclear-powered carrier in the 1980s that was never in fact built.
In reporting this, Oleh Cheslavskyi of the Ukrainian news portal Censoru.net says that everyone should recognize just what this means: “In Russia, there is not one scientific research institute capable of coming up with something new! In the country, there simply are no engineers.” As a result, shipbuilders will use Soviet designs.
Meanwhile, a second article, by Vladimir Tuchkov of the Russian newspaper Svobodnaya pressa, points out that despite the priority the Kremlin has given to this project, Russian yards are not capable of building a new aircraft carrier in less than ten years and that as a result Moscow will only have the Kuznetsov, assuming it comes back, to project power.