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Aircraft carriers, amphibious ships, and GEVs key to Russian Navy’s future

July 28, 15:23 UTC+3 MOSCOW

TASS highlights Russia’s extensive efforts to create state-of-the-art naval technologies

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© Yuri Smityuk/TASS

MOSCOW, July 28. /TASS/. Russia’s Navy is gradually upgrading its hardware, as new surface ships and submarines are built and naval aviation planes enter duty. Alongside the well-reputed naval technologies some fundamentally new ideas or dramatic solutions unduly neglected in the past are coming to the forefront.

Learn more about Russia’s large-scale efforts to create cutting-edge naval technologies from this special feature by TASS.

Planes

At Russia’s just-ended MAKS-2017 air show Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov broke the news that the Defense Ministry was discussing with aircraft manufacturers the possibility of creating a vertical takeoff and landing plane for an aircraft carrier of the future.

"The Defense Ministry’s plans, the long-term ones likely to be implemented toward the end of the 2018-2025 state program for armaments, include a project for building a new aircraft carrier. A new generation of planes is to become available by then… Also on the Defense Ministry’s plans that we are discussing with our aircraft manufacturers is the creation of a short takeoff and landing (STAL) aircraft. Possibly, it will be a vertical takeoff and landing plane," Borisov said.

The United Aircraft Corporation has not yet received any terms of reference for such planes but UAC chief Yuri Slyusar says he knows about such plans.

"We are waiting for the customer to formulate proposals. We are aware of such plans. For now the work on finalizing the plane’s shape and the expected technical parameters has not been completed yet," Slyusar said.

The Yakovlev Design Bureau worked on a multirole supersonic vertical takeoff and landing jet Yak-141 for many years since the mid-1970s. The plane made its first flight in 1987. The original intention was Yak-141 would arm the group of heavy aircraft-carrying cruisers The Novorossiysk, The Baku (eventually turned into The Admiral Gorshkov), The Tbilisi (The Admiral Kuznetsov), The Riga (The Varyag) and The Ulyanovsk. Yak-141 made its first landing on an aircraft carrier’s deck in 1991. In 2003 the project was closed down.

GEV or ekranoplan

Research is in progress again into such an unusual means of transportation as the ground effect vehicle GEV (also known as the flying wing or ekranoplan). Research into this aircraft technology in the Soviet Union and Russia has been conducted all the time only by one organization - the Alekseyev Central Hydrofoil Design Bureau - which delivered its unique missile-carrying GEV vehicle Lun (Russian for Harrier) and the amphibious vehicle Orlyonok.

Earlier, the chief of Russia’s Naval Aviation, Major-General Igor Kozhin, said that the Defense Ministry hoped to have at its disposal someday a GEV able to carry a payload of up to 300 tonnes.

"I believe that by 2020 we will have a real platform capable of rather effective operation… It will carry 240-300 tonnes of cargoes. It will be a unique naval transport vehicle in its own right," he said.

General Kozhin said the Russian Navy was in the process of altering the GEV development concept, adding that the flying wings were well applicable over the sea and ocean surface but far less effective over rivers.

The Alekseyev Design Bureau’s board chairman Georgy Antsev has told TASS the work on a future universal military GEV was still in the sketch design phase.

"The Defense Ministry is conducting extensive research in this field. The Alekseyev Bureau is creating a universal GEV platform. We’ve conducted some research and today we can present several projects at our own initiative - several platforms capable of carrying 80-tonne and 60-tonne payloads," Antsev said.

Helicopters

The work on a future naval helicopter Minoga (the project was first presented to the public at large in 2015) is proceeding on schedule. Kozhin told TASS that the Kamov Design Bureau in 2020 will produce a fundamentally new helicopter for the Russian Navy.

In the long term Minoga is to replace the multi-role deck helicopter Ka-27, whose main task is to spot, track and destroy enemy submarines. Kozhin said the project had already emerged from the sketch design phase. The helicopter’s dimensions will fit naval standards and its fuselage will be equipped with weapons-carrying modules.

The project is in the technical design phase. The helicopter’s configuration and composition and its individual parts and mechanisms are acquiring the final shape. According to sources in the defense-industrial complex and its takeoff mass will be smaller than that of the Ka-27 (the latter’s maximum takeoff mass is 12 tonnes).

Kamov’s general designer, Sergey Mikheyev, has told TASS, he hoped Minoga would begin to be produced serially in about ten years from now.

"This is not a rumor. A decision has been made that Kamov, a manufacturer with great expertise in making deck helicopters should get down to work on this project. Research and development has just begun. I believe it will take ten years," Mikheyev said.

Drones

The Russian Navy expects the defense industry to provide a universal helicopter that might be used as a drone.

"We are looking into this matter. In principle, we have certain ideas and technical solutions regarding the creation of a universal helicopter - a base platform that can be promptly rearmed for performing different tasks - from submarine chasing to assault operations.

New generation helicopters will have unmanned configurations.

"Creating unmanned deck aircraft is one of the major challenges facing the specialists of our leading design bureaus," Kozhin said without disclosing any dates.

A new generation of patrol planes is about to materialize soon to replace the current Ilyushin-38N. All in all the Russian Navy’s aviation component is to get about 100 new aircraft by 2020. In 2016 it obtained ten planes of different class and 20 upgraded deck helicopters Ka-27.

Amphibious assault ships

Advanced research into ships for the Navy’s surface component is focused on several major projects, including a new generation amphibious ship included in the program for armaments extending till 2025.

Nevskoye Design Bureau CEO Sergey Vlasov earlier told TASS several types of such naval ships had been proposed. The most promising one is in the pre-project research phase. Its look will be fundamentally new in contrast to classical naval shipbuilding traditions.

Amphibious ships vary. There are helicopter carriers, multi-purpose amphibious ships and helicopter-carrying amphibious dock ships. I reckon it will be multi-role amphibious ship, something like Mistral, but of a somewhat different shape," he said.

Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov told the media Russia’s first helicopter carrier would hopefully be delivered by 2022 but avoided specifying the type of the ship. Apart from the unnamed Nevsky Design Bureau’s project another project often mentioned is the helicopter carrier Priboi, proposed by the Krylov Research Center. A model of the universal amphibious ship Priboi with a displacement of 14,000 tonnes was first displayed at the forum Army-2015.

Destroyer

The 2018-2025 state program for armaments incorporates design work on a future destroyer called Leader. As a source at the international naval show in St. Petersburg told TASS the ship would begin to be built in 2025.

The project Leader is being developed at the Northern Design Bureau in St. Petersburg. The Defense Ministry has already given its consent to the ship’s sketch design.

The Leader’s parameters have not been disclosed so far. According to sources in the defense industry the ship may have a displacement of 10,000 to 15,000 tonnes. The destroyer may armed with Kalibr or Oniks cruise missiles and the naval configuration of the S-500 missile system. The Russian Navy’s Deputy Chief Viktor Bursuk said the ships of the Leader project will have a nuclear power plant.

Submarines

In the submarine segment fifth-generation subs, to be designed and built under the 2018-2025 state program for armaments, are of the greatest interest. Some of the submarines will be nuclear powered and others, non-nuclear ones.

The vice-president of the United Shipbuilding Corporation for naval projects, Igor Ponomaryov, says a preliminary project of a fifth generation non-nuclear submarine has been finalized and coordination of the technical design aspects of the project is underway.

The Russian Navy’s deputy commander, Vice-Admiral Aleksandr Fedotenkov, earlier said the project would be codenamed Kalina. Fifth generation non-nuclear submarines will first be built for the Northern and Baltic Fleets. Two types of non-nuclear submarines are being made for the Russian Navy at the moment - project 636.3 Varshavyanka and 677 Lada.

At the recent international naval show in St. Petersburg it was announced that two Lada submarines had been ordered. With this time this small and quietest submarine in the Russian Navy will constitute the backbone of the non-nuclear submarine force.

The image of a future fifth generation nuclear submarine Husky and its sketch design are to be finalized within two years. Currently, Russia builds a series of multirole fourth generation submarines Yasen and strategic missile-carrying submarines Borei.

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