Russian designers display “Project 11430E Lamantin” future aircraft carrier design featuring Navalised aircraft version of Sukhoi Su-57 and Mikoyan MiG-35.
As Russian shipyards prepare to lay down the country’s first post-Soviet carriers in Crimea, a pair of light warships estimated at around 25,000 tons each, the Russian Military appears set to make a final decision regarding its plans for development of a heavy carrier to replace the aging Admiral Kuznetsov.
Two lading proposals have emerged, the first for a supercarrier displacing approximately 100,000 tons – possibly closer to 110,000, under the SHTORM program, and another lighter ship displacing approximately 80,000 tons.
The Nevskoye Design Bureau, part of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Corporation, has put forward the Project 11430E ‘Lamantin’ nuclear-powered aircraft carrier as a design proposal – which while not as costly or as heavy as the SHTORM program will still benefit from the endurance that a nuclear propulsion system brings.
A model of the carrier was displayed during a meeting of Russian military officials and navy commanders in Sevastopol, the Crimean capital.
The Lamantiin carrier appears to be intended to further reduce costs by deploying navalised derivatives of the ‘4++ generation’ Su-35 air superiority fighter – rather than next-generation Su-57 fighters as the SHTORM did.
The viability of such a choice remains highly questionable, with the U.S. Navy set to supplement its F-35C stealth fighters with sixth-generation Air Dominance Fighters by the time the new carrier enters service, which will likely leave the Su-35 terribly outmatched. Other fighters that have been proposed for carrier operations from the SHTORM include the MiG-35 ‘4++ generation’ medium fighter and the Su-34 strike fighter.
The former would likely be an attractive export if navalised, while the latter would provide some very unique capabilities for the Russian fleet.
The Lamantin carrier’s biggest shortfall over the SHTORM Class appears not to be its size, but its reliance on an increasingly obsolete STOBAR launch system rather than a steam catapult system, as used by American Nimitz Class ships, or an electromagnetic catapult system as used by the American Gerald Ford Class, the Chinese Type 002 and Type 003 Classes and the SHTORM itself.
This is an unusual choice not only because of the limitations it would impose on the takeoff weights of carrier-based aircraft, a serious disadvantage but also because Russia has been actively developing an electromagnetic launch system since at least 2018.
Should it enter service without a catapult system, the Lamantin would be the only nuclear-powered carrier and by far the heaviest one in history to do so. According to the Nevskoye Design Bureau’s display stand, the Lamantin twill displaces 80,000-90,000 tonnes, measure 350 meters long, and have a maximum speed of around 30 knots – the same speed as the American Gerald Ford Class.
The carrier will have a crew of 2,800 and a service life of over 50 years, and if chosen will be the first Russian aircraft carrier ever built. The Soviet Union developed two classes of the aircraft-carrying cruiser, the Kuznetsov and Kiev Classes, although both of these were built in Ukraine.
The only ‘pure’ Soviet carrier, the Ulyanovsk Class, was canceled in 1992 after it was laid down due to the state’s collapse. Other than its lack of an electromagnetic catapult launch system, the Lamantin appears a viable compromise from the most costly SHTORM program – but it remains to be seen if the warship will be selected in its current form.