Russians Plan to Build ‘Shtorm,’ World’s Largest Aircraft Carrier

By | Apr 19, 2017 09:05 PM EDT
Show me the money!

Shtorm aircraft carrier of the Russian Navy (scale model). (Photo : Russian Navy)

Russia plans to build its first true nuclear aircraft carrier in the mold of the U.S. Navy's new Gerald R. Ford-class and is boasting this new warship will be the largest of its kind in the world when it takes to the water.

The Russians have named this carrier "Shtorm" -- officially Project 23E000E -- and expect it to join the Russian Navy by 2030, that is, if Russia can cough up the billions of dollars needed to build this carrier. Shtorm, which will apparently be the lead ship in the Shtorm-class, will feature a full flight deck similar to that in U.S. Navy's Nimitz-class nuclear powered aircraft carriers.

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It will be the first Russian aircraft carrier built to this design. Previous Russian "aircraft carriers" such as the RFS Admiral Kuznetsov (063) are officially classified by the Russian Navy as a "heavy aircraft-carrying cruisers."

This means the Kuznetsov is really a heavy cruiser that can also launch aircraft. The Kuznetsov also carries anti-ship and surface-to-air missile systems more appropriate to Russian Navy cruisers than U.S. Navy aircraft carriers.

Russian experts allege Shtorm will be similar to the USS Gerald R. Ford, and won't be "protected by artillery" like the Kuznetsov, said Prof. Vadim Kozyulin from the Academy of Military Sciences.

"It will be a floating airport that is accompanied by an entire squadron of ships," he noted.

Among the interesting specs of Shtorm so far revealed is its having a flight deck with a length equivalent to that of three football fields. The deck will be divided into four lanes of various lengths.

Quite oddly, Russian media is saying aircraft will be launched using a "mixed launching system." The carrier will feature catapult assisted take-off lanes similar to that of the U.S. Navy and lanes where aircraft will be launched by a ski-jump similar to that on the Kuznetsov.

The paltry defensive missile armament on Shtorm means it will have to be protected by at least 10 escorting warships consisting of frigates, destroyers, cruisers and submarines. Russia will also have to build these warships.

Shtorm should be powered by two RITM-200 nuclear engines that can accelerate the carrier to 30 knots (55 km/h). The ship will displace 100,000 tons and will have a crew of 4,000 sailors and airmen.

The aircraft complement will consist of Mikoyan MiG-29K carrier-based fighter jets and the naval version of the Sukhoi T-50 stealth jet still under development, according to Prof. Kozyulin.

Russian experts estimate the construction of Shtorm will cost from $6.15 to $17.5 billion, depending on the ship's components.

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