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Russia to Unveil Aircraft Supercarrier Design Amid Navy Buildup

The scale of the new carrier would rival that of the U.S. supercarrier fleet and be one of the world's largest warships — which has raised doubts over Russia's ability to construct such a vessel.

A Russian naval design bureau will unveil a new design for a massive aircraft carrier at an upcoming maritime defense industry show in St. Petersburg amid a major Russian arms buildup, magazine IHS Jane's reported Friday.

Known as the Project 23000E, or Shtorm-class, super-carrier, the design by the Krylov State Research Center appears similar to one teased by Russian Defense Ministry television channel TV Zvezda earlier this year.

The unveiling, which is planned for the International Maritime Defense Show 2015 in early July according to IHS Jane's, will come as Russia pushes forward with a 20 trillion ruble ($400 billion) decade-long rearmament program through 2020 intended to revamp the country's armed forces and restore the Russian navy's ability to project power abroad.

“The Project 23000E multipurpose aircraft carrier is designed to conduct operations in remote and oceanic areas, engage land-based and sea-borne enemy targets, ensure the operational stability of naval forces, protect landing troops, and provide the anti-aircraft defense,” Krylov State Research Center deputy director Valery Polyakov told IHS Jane's, a specialized defense industry publication.

The new super-carrier would likely be part of a future armament program, as Russia's shipbuilding industry is currently unable to take on such a project, and the navy's near term strategy is to build up its fleets of smaller vessels.

Read more: Russia Wants an Aircraft Supercarrier, But Can it Build One?

Weighing in at 100,000 tons, the Shtorm-class is significantly larger and more capable than Moscow's only current aircraft carrier, the 43,000 ton Soviet-built Admiral Kuznetsov.

The scale of new carrier would rival that of the U.S. super-carrier fleet and be one of the world's largest warships — which has raised doubts over Russia's ability to construct such a vessel.

Like every Soviet aircraft carrier before it, Kuznetsov was constructed in the Nikolayev 444 shipyards, located in Ukraine. Russia does not have shipbuilding capacity for a vessel larger than 60,000 tons, experts told The Moscow Times earlier this year.

According to Polyakov, the proposed aircraft carrier will have a length of 330 meters, a width of 40 meters, and keel depth of 11 meters and a top speed of 30 knots, IHS Jane's reported.

Though Zvezda reported that Krylov's design would be powered by a nuclear reactor, Polyakov said the version of the design to be shown in St. Petersburg will run on convention diesel fuel. The design could be tweaked to fit a nuclear system if necessary, he said.

In 2011, Russia also commissioned two 16,500 ton French Mistral-class helicopter carriers for its fleet, but France froze the deal last year over Moscow's actions in Ukraine.

Contact the author at m.bodner@imedia.ru

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