Monday, July 17, 2017

Russia's New Big Warships

Russia is likely to build larger surface combatants in the coming years—with larger corvettes and frigates in the works. However, Moscow is not likely to spend large sums of money to build massive new vessels such as the gargantuan 14,000-ton Leader-class nuclear-powered destroyers or 100,000-ton Storm aircraft carriers. Instead, Russia will likely build scaled up versions of existing warship designs.

Indeed, the Leader-class is unlikely to ever be built. Moscow will more likely build a smaller and more cost effective vessel based on its Project 22350 Admiral Gorshkov-class frigates. The new “Super Gorshkovs” are likely to displace about 8,000-tons, which is about size of a normal destroyer.

At 8000-tons, the new Super Gorshkovs would be larger than most frigates such as the 6,700-ton French-Italian FREMMs or 6,400-ton Spanish Álvaro de Bazán class (F100)—and would thus be more appropriately categorized as destroyers. Indeed, the new Russian vessels would be comparable to the 7000-ton Australian Hobart-class or 8,500-ton British Type 45 destroyers in terms of size if not capability.

In addition to the new super-sized Gorshkov-based frigate/destroyer, the Russians are likely to focus on up-sized corvettes.

There is a debate in Russia as to whether their navy needs additional smaller green water surface combatants. If Kofman is correct, the Russians are now leaning towards building larger vessels.

Overall, the Russian fleet will grow and recapitalize at measured pace. Moscow is unlikely to embark on any fantastical projects like the Leader anytime soon. Modern Russia is not the Soviet Union and simply doesn’t have the kind of resources it once did during the Cold War. Thus, current day Russian navy modernization is more measured than was the case prior to the Soviet collapse.