Russia has announced plans to build ‘the world’s biggest aircraft carrier’ to take on America’s Nimitz class ships.
The new Shtorm craft, known as Project 23E000E, could cost up to $17.5billion each and enter service by 2030, state media reports.
Shtorm class carries would be powered by nuclear reactors and carry up to 90 aircraft, including the newly designed T-50, the report claims.
Despite the Kremlin’s claim that the new carrier will be the world’s biggest, its specifications appear similar to the current US Nimitz class ships.
Professor Vadim Kozyulin, an expert quoted by Russian media, admits that the ship will be based on the design for new American carrier USS Gerald R Ford.
‘It will be a floating airport that is accompanied by an entire squadron of ships,’ Mr Kozyulin said.
The new craft will feature a deck the size of three football fields, house 4,000 crew and need specially designed docks to fit inside.
Catapult launch systems will mean the new carriers can deploy three aircraft a minute, like its American equivalent, rather than one per minute currently.
Those aircraft will be MiG-29K jets, Russia’s current carrier-based fighter, and a specially modified naval version of the new Sukhoi PAK FA, also known by its prototype name T-50. The new Russian craft could cost between $6.1billion and $17.5billion to manufacture, though the true cost will be higher, as they will require a lot of new infrastructure to be built before they can operate. At the moment Russia has only one aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, which was built under the Soviets and launched in 1985.
It can carry only 30 aircraft, is powered by steam propulsion engines, and has a complement of 1,700 crew.
By contrast America’s Nimitz carriers, of which it has 10, have two nuclear-powered engines, carry around 90 aircraft and helicopters, and have a crew of 5,000.
The vessels are so large they require their own ZIP codes so that mail can be sent to those on board.