The Russian Navy’s Achilles Heel is Aircraft Carriers

    TNI Staff

    Security, Europe

    And the planes on the one they have. 

    Under the stewardship of Adm. Sergey Gorshkov, the Soviet Union built a fleet that could challenge the might of even the United States Navy during the Cold War. But one area where the Soviet Navy never caught up to the United States was in the realm of naval aviation, despite the plans put forth by Gorshkov and his successor Adm. Vladimir Chernavin.

    The Soviet Union only completed one true aircraft carrier—Admiral Kuznetsov—before the massive state came apart at the end of 1991. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Kremlin’s ambitions to build a carrier fleet and the naval aviation assets to go with it largely came to a grinding halt as chaos enveloped the newly independent Russian Federation. The new—and much truncated—Russian Federation did not have the financial or economic wherewithal of the Soviet Union, but the Kremlin chose to preserve its hard won naval aviation capacity for the future.

    Russia divested itself of its four Kiev-class “heavy aviation cruisers” that were designed to operate the Yakovlev Yak-38 Forger and later the Yak-41 vertical takeoff and landing strike fighters immediately after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Two of the massive hybrid cruiser/carriers were sold to China as museum ships—providing Beijing with significant expertise in carrier design. Meanwhile, Novorossiysk—the third vessel—was scrapped in South Korea while the last ship Admiral Gorshkov was eventually rebuilt as a true flattop carrier for the India and now serves as INS Vikramaditya.

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