USSR was unable to build US-equivalent aircraft carriers?

I hate nitpicking*, but the Russian designation was (and is) Tu-22M, while NATO called it (probably more properly) the Tu-26.

  • No I don’t, I live for it

Another point of note is that, at the end of WW2, the US had a substantial Navy and the Soviets very little of one. There is not a lot to be gained in deploying a carrier battle group when your expected opponent has a dozen of them. Naval combat is an area where sheer power counts for an awful lot: you can’t entrench, you can’t really hit & run, to an extent it really is about having the most eyes and guns to throw at the problem. The only way the USSR could’ve expected to achieve any worthwhile result would be to scale up to something more on par with the strength of the US Navy. The hurdle wasn’t building and operating -a- carrier, it was building -all- of them.

THe history of the Russian Navy is interesting. It always was a poorly funded services, and under Stalin, it had only a limited role. Krushchev (correctly) thought that surface ships were obsolete, so the emphasis was on submarines. The 1970’s buildup (under Admiral Gorchev) was impressive-until you realize that most of the ships were poorly constructed. Could the Russians have built USN-style fleet carriers? Of course, but the financial cost would be enormous-plus, they needed to develop the aircraft, train the pilots, etc. And what use would they have? Very limited-they were better off with submarines.
I think the USN will begin to cut back on carriers soon:
-they are enormously expensive
-they are vulnerable to missile attack
-drone fighters will soon be cheaper and more reliable than human-piloted fighters

Except our carriers main mission nowadays is not toe-to-toe combat with a comparable navy, mostly because there is no such navy in the world. An aircraft carrier is a mobile airport. The aircraft flying off the carrier don’t have to be attacking naval assets to be useful.

About that specific problem, historian John Keegan has written “time and distance are pitiless factors in war at sea.” He was talking about the Battle of the Falkland Islands.

Carriers are hardly vulnerable to missiles.

  1. its protected by Aegis-equipped surface ships, and the Aegis system was designed to handle Soviet-style saturated missile attacks.

  2. missiles are not effective against modern carriers, due to its enormous size. Torpedos are way more effective

  3. the enemy has little chance to get within the range to launch anti-ship missiles anyway due to the aircraft patrols based on the carrier.

There is no current defense against anti-ship ballistic missiles.

The US Department of Defense has stated that China has developed and reached initial operating capability [13] of a conventionally-armed[14] high hypersonic[15] land-based anti-ship ballistic missile based on the DF-21.
United States Naval Institute in 2009 stated that the warhead is large enough to destroy an aircraft carrier in one hit. If the ballistic missile worked as theorized, then ships currently could not defend against it.

And somewhere J.R.R. Tolklien is chuckling.

Remember that in his language system the original name of the Riddermark was *Rochand, with the Ch having the value it does in Chanukah or loch, modernized to Rohan.

Now remember that one of the southeast peoples were the Variags of Khand. I think he’d be amused that there is now a Varyag of Han. :slight_smile:

There are only 22 aircraft carriers in service on this planet, half of them in the US Navy.

But it’s worth noting that the US operates super carriers, vastly larger than the carriers other countries operate. This photo of a US and British carrier side-by-side illustrates the difference.

Maybe there was no current defense against anti-ship ballistic missiles in 2009, when the Naval Institute said that. That’s changed, and quickly.

The Wikipedia page on the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System lists 14 US ships operational with the system by 2010, with more upgrades following. Six more Arleigh Burke class ships are getting upgraded this year.

As far as I know, it’s generally accepted that the Soviets didn’t concentrate on aircraft carriers for several reasons (many already pointed out by others). Global nuclear war aside…

  1. They were concentrated on a war in Europe as well as China; and as was pointed out the navy played a very minor role in WWII compared to air and ground forces, as opposed to the US which needed to project it’s military might far from home.

  2. They were specifically countering the threat of US aircraft carriers. That meant maritime patrol aircraft, vessels with huge anti-ship capability like the Kirov, attack submarines, etc to sink US aircraft carrier groups.

  3. There are few places for a large naval group to leave the area of the former Soviet Union which isn’t under easy striking distance from US or allied land based aircraft. The flip side is that they heavily invested in weapons to deny US carrier groups from operating within range of the Soviet Union.

If I had to guess, I would have said that the soviet navy was the weak sister of the Soviet armed forces. With everyone talking about the button and armageddon 30 minutes later, anything on the surface was going to be floating scrap metal. They got the subs, cause those were practical. Most of the soviet leadership would have been through world war two and I would think that their view of the navy would have been at odds with the new young turks coming up.

What their surface fleet got, was a variety of aviation platforms, from helicopter carriers to through deck cruisers that would have flown the Yak-38, sorta , but not really a comparable plane to the Harrier. So someone in the soviet navy was trying to sneak carrier aviation into the navy through the back door, but ended up creating a school of thought, that quite a few other navies bought into , and concidered it the new thing in naval aviation.

Physically they could have entered a carrier into fleet operations, but I dont think the political patronage was there to sustain full time carrier operations on the scale of the US or French navy.


Again, I’ll go back to my post. Just where are the Soviet supercarriers supposed to be sailing out of?

The Pacific: Far removed from population centers, able to threaten US interests but likely to be overwhelmed by the US Navy. No special need to project force places they can’t already reach from land bases or from proxy states.

Baltic Ports: Going where now? Bottled up by Germany, Scandinavia, Denmark, UK.

Arctic Ports: Sure thing.

Black Sea: Again, going where? Sailing through the Bosphorus?

Anti-ship ballistic missile is a total myth. It’s hardly technologically possible. It’s more like a bluff from China.