In terms of capital ships, today the Russian Federation Navy (RFN) has one aircraft carrier (the Admiral Kuznetsov—currently at sea off the coast of Syria), the sole survivor of an ambitious carrier program initiated in the 1960s. Similarly, only one of the four nuclear-propelled battle cruisers of the Kirov class currently is in service (the Petr Velikiy), although a second (the Admiral Nakhimov) is undergoing major modernization costing more than $2 billion. These ships are legacies, now intended for showing the flag and status projection, demonstrating Russia still is a great power on blue waters.
New Russian Navy: Part 1 - Toward Smaller Ships and Professional Sailors
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first article in a four-part series on the Russian Federation Navy. This chapter is an overview of strategy and personnel changes. In January, the focus will be the surface fleet. Submarines will be covered in depth in February, and the Russian naval air forces will be the focus in March.A quarter century after the end of the Cold War the old Soviet Navy is steadily disappearing from view and a very different Russian fleet is starting to take its place. Once a challenge on the high seas to the U.S. Navy, today Russia’s surface combatant force is becoming a “green water” force. As Russia steadily retires old Soviet ships, its young replacements are smaller, multipurpose, and with new capabilities. Yet Russia’s vision for a new fleet also is in trouble, beset by construction problems, delays, corruption, and lost years caused by a dependency on gas turbines from Ukraine. Only in submarine construction is there a bright picture, but here, too, there are important questions.
By Michael Kofman and Norman Polmar