WI: No Soviet carriers?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Jukra, May 18, 2019.

  1. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    Historically, Soviets built four Kiev -class and one Kutznetsov -class TAKR's. Their mission was to help in defending Soviet bastion areas.

    What if, taking a look at costs of a carrier program Soviets decide to abandon the concept and make investments in other areas instead? Say, better area SAM's for warships, in-flight refuelling of fighters, land-based ASW aircraft and helicopter carrying warships a la Moskva-class?

    As for post-Cold War Russian navy, this would probably make Russian navy much more powerful as they would not have to waste resources on Kutznetsov. India would avoid Gorshkov tale and perhaps purchase, say, Clemenceau or Foch instead. China would have to develop it's own indigenous carrier which might have benefits, not just disadvantages.
     
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  2. steamboy Well-Known Member

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    The Soviet navy's SAM's were always based off their ground based cousins (save the quite widespread SA-N-3), the SA-N-6 was the naval version of the SA-10, the SA-N-4 is the sea going version of the SA-8 and so forth. And these weapons were not bad. What the Soviets lacked was decent electronic systems and the like to have something like AEGIS.
    The carriers were also an expansion of the Bastion concept, the Kiev's aircraft were there not to intercept NATO fighters, but to shoot down recon aircraft and the like. Really the Soviets would have been better served if instead of making the Kiev's multi role ships, they should have been true carriers.
     
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  3. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    But shooting recon aircraft can be achieved other ways than building a carrier, such as in-flight refuelling of fighters (Tu-128, possibly, initially, then MiG-31) or taking the Nimrod route, ie. equipping maritime patrol aircraft with A-A missiles, preferably some sort of AI radar too. This would probably result in a better coverage than couple of Forgers.
     
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  4. steamboy Well-Known Member

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    True but this would require several doctrinal changes in the Soviet armed forces. IIRC the problem was that the Soviet Navy 'owned' the aircraft, and any development program was done separate of the airforce, under the navy's budget. The navy would have to get its own tankers, and more aircraft. Which would irritate the airforce who would probably try to block such a move as this could well be seen as intruding on their 'job'. It would also probably upset various admirals who wanted surface ships or subs.

    This is why I think that if it was possible, the earlier introduction of a true carrier would have been better. Yes it would have probably been a rather poor design with bad aircraft (MiG-23's and SU-17's at a guess) but it would have given them experience in designing and building such ships.
     
  5. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    Soviet naval air arm was large and operated from land, and included fighters, tankers etc. As for carriers and getting more experience on them, for what end? Soviet Union could not compete with the USN in carrier business anyway, why waste resources on it? Besides, as due to Soviet doctrine, the carriers were to be operated fairly close to shore.
     
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  6. Riain Well-Known Member

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    Soviet technology is likely not able to deliver the advanced aircraft and missiles needed to avoid building carriers. While on paper their aircraft looked capable but this came with significant shortcomings like poor serviceability and range.
     
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  7. steamboy Well-Known Member

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    They don't need to compete, because they never could. They would just need to make any attempted attack on the Bastion too painful, or to help with troop movements against Norway etc. Because of their multi-role nature the Kiev's were neither fish nor fowl, and the Forger was a TERRIBLE aircraft. And IIRC their tankers were all pretty much tied to the Backfire and Badger force that would go out convoy/CBG hunting.

    What i'd do, if I was the Soviets would be this, assuming you could get it passed through the layers of interservice rivalry and beauracracy to get funding.

    Develop and build a true aircraft carrier, she'd not be big, not a super carrier, about Foch sized if possible, instead of the Kiev's, with an air wing of fighters and helicopters.

    Next, design a cruiser for surface actions seeing as you're not carrying SS-N-12's any more on your CV. Basically it would be an early Slava type ship with SS-N-12s and SA-N-3/SA-N-4 for air defence. Also if possible, use the cruiser hull to develop an anti-aircraft ship, with SA-N-3 and soforth onboard for anti-aircrat work. You use these groups of ships to protect the Bastions and your coastline from NATO carrier attacks and subs by extending the range of your fighters without having to take away tankers from the backfire/badger strike groups.
     
  8. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    As for actual aircraft carriers, a dedicated one seems more sensible than mixed carrier, if for nothing else than for longevity as the air wing can be upgraded. But construction of more long range interceptors and tankers is much cheaper than construction and operation of aircraft carriers. By late 1960's there's Tu-128, with 2600km range on internal fuel, is available. By 1980's MiG-31 is available, with 3000km range on internal fuel, much more with aerial refuelling. I'd imagine a two seater for very long range fleet defense could be a good option to reduce pilot fatigue, something a la Su-34 Fullback. Additionally this kind of aircraft could be used in strike role too.

    However, my original question is, what would change if Soviets decide not to construct carriers at all? What would be the effects on post-Cold War Russian Navy, Chinese Navy and Indian Navy?
     
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  9. steamboy Well-Known Member

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    Its hard to tell, the Indians would need a carrier design of their own, as would the PLAN. So you'd see either indiginous designs from India, or if you're China, trying to buy an old carrier to turn it into an amusement park. Honest....
     
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  10. CV12Hornet Well-Known Member

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    While not using resources on Kuznetsov would allow the Russians to operate more smaller ships, I have serious doubts it would make the Russian Navy all that much more powerful. They're still saddled with Soviet surplus dating back to the 80s and no realistic timetable for replacing it.
     
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  11. sparky42 CMII

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    Or they buy the design of the QE class, from memory there were rumours floating around about that years ago. Or I’m sure the French would have sold them a design/hull.

    As to the question of “true carriers” didn’t the soviets have to deal with the treaty limitation of passing through the Bosporus?
     
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  12. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    Not USN or PLAN level powerful, but compared to situation what they have today. Kutznetsov has complement for, say, two Kirov's, three Slava's or seven Krivak's.
     
  13. Jukra Well-Known Member

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    That wasn't an issue, as the follow-up Ulyanovsk-class was constructed in Nikolajev in the Black Sea as well. Besides, even Ford-class ship is just a Cruiser with some aViation with Nuclear propulsion.
     
  14. RamscoopRaider Some Sort of Were-Orca, probably an Akhlut Donor

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    Technically it's Cruiser Voleur Nuclear, not Cruiser aViation Nuclear
     
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  15. sloreck Grunt Bear

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    To have one carrier continuously at sea you need three, except for exception surges. Whatever aviation capable ship the Soviets build, they need to build them in multiples of three. A full up CV is basically about power projection, and frankly the Soviet Navy was never going to be about this. One on one with the USN, no way, and if you add NATO (and potentially Japan and S. Korea) to the US side and all the WP countries and even the PRC prior to 1990 the odds get even worse. The question is, what purpose will the Soviet aviation capable ships do? If they are there as part of bastion protection, providing a safe haven for SSBNs and keeping NATO surface forces away from the USSR you really only need ASW helos (to augment those on surface ships), fighters capable of dealing with recon/ASW aircraft (not high end), and radar surveillance aircraft probably helo not fixed wing. A relatively small ski ramp type carrier can do this. Stopping an air attack from NATO carriers will be the job of land based fighters.

    A true aviation ship in the Baltic Fleet is an artificial reef waiting to happen, and one in the Black Sea Fleet is useless unless in the Med, and then it goes toe to toe with NATO carriers and land based air - nope. In the Pacific in the Sea of Okhotsk unnecessary, and if one is in the Pacific proper only a full up CV has any chance of survival for any length of time.

    Could the USSR have built full on CVs, proper aircraft, and crewed them in sufficient numbers to be useful - maybe, but this means something else does not get done. The big question is why/what for.
     
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  16. Khanzeer Well-Known Member

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    I would suggest more and better supersonic ASM armed longer ranged su24 for ASUW work

    Atleast 200 Shore based su27 type escorts for naval airpower

    And invest in better , more numerous and quieter subs like akula , kilo for ASW bastion defence
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2019
  17. Khanzeer Well-Known Member

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    Is mig31 a good interceptor in 80s ?
    I mean it cannot escort AVMF bombers
     
  18. tomo pauk Well-Known Member

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    Probably one of the best.

    It cannot?
     
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  19. gatordad699 Well-Known Member

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    Only two types of ships, submarines and targets.
     
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  20. steamboy Well-Known Member

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    The MiG-31 was the exclusive property of the PVO who's job it was to defend the USSR against Western bombers. And because the MiG-31 is a complicated, expensive aircraft to produce (those titanium turbine blades in its engines are not cheap or easy to make) it remains that way. And I'd say any attempt to get more MiG-31's or divert some production for the Navy would result in the PVO going REEEEESKI! And start an unholy bunfight over who gets what. Using more aircraft works, but at the time the Kiev's were introduced, you only had the MiG-23 and MiG-27 in that role along with the SU-22. And these are not long ranged aircraft and the airforce was getting ALL of them save the monkey versions being flogged to the Middle East. When the MiG-29 and SU-27 come out, again they are going to be for the airforce and they'd snarl at any efforts to pry their hands off them.
     
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