The Russians have confirmed that they are plan to build their first new amphibious warfare helicopter carrier for use by their Naval Infantry (Russia’s equivalent to the Marines) by 2022.
The new helicopter carrier will be the first in a series built to replace the two Mistral class carriers ordered by Russia from France, whose delivery the French government prevented because of the Ukrainian crisis.
Confirmation of the plan to build the helicopter carrier has been provided by Russian Deputy Defence Minister Yury Borisov
The cycle of building a helicopter carrier is at least four years; yes, somewhere by 2022
Russia has never built helicopter carriers of this sort before.
Russia did build two helicopter carriers in the 1960s: the Moskva and the Leningrad (Moskva pictured below)
However these were intended strictly for anti-submarine use, and were completely different from helicopter carriers designed for amphibious warfare and use by Naval Infantry.
The time frame of 4-5 years to build the new helicopter carrier is surprisingly short considering that this is a type of warship which Russia has never built before. However the Russians say they have learnt much from studying the Mistral class, and that this will help them both to design and build the new helicopter carrier.
The Russians have two designs for amphibious warfare helicopter carriers: the Lavina class of 24,000 tonnes with a maximum speed of 22 knots (bigger and faster than the Mistrals) able to carry 500 troops, 16 helicopters and 50 armoured vehicles, and a smaller design called the Priboy class of just 14,000 tonnes, carrying only 8 helicopters but apparently also able to carry a similar number of troops and vehicles to the Lavina.
Here is a picture of a model of the proposed Lavina class
And here is a picture of a model of the proposed Priboy class
It is not definitely known which of the two designs has been chosen to be built by 2022. However it is more likely to be the larger Lavina class, which reports last year were saying Russia has definitely committed itself to. There is however a possibility that the Russians might decide to order examples of both types, so that they can complement each other.
I discussed Russian helicopter carrier development and the intended use by the Russian Naval Infantry of the new helicopter carriers in an article published by The Duran in August.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.