Friday, July 27, 2012

Flashback Friday: Ulyanovsk-class

     This week the topic of discussion is the USSR's planned class of supercarriers, the Ulyanovsk-class. The Ulyanovsk-class was supposed to be a Soviet analog to the American Nimitz-class supercarriers. The main mission of the Ulyanovsk-class would have been power projection and sea control, versus ASW as with all previous Soviet carrier designs.
     The Ulyanovsk-class would have had a displacement of just under 80,000 tons fully loaded, a length of 325 meters, a beam of 40m, and a draft of 11m. The Ulyanovsk-class would have had a top speed of at least 30 knots, and crew of roughly 3,800 men. 
     As with all Soviet carrier designs the Ulyanovsk-class carried their own offensive firepower in the form of 12 SS-N-19 Shipwreck ASCMs in 12 VLS launchers between the forward catapults. The Ulyanovsk-class also carried 24 SA-N-9 Gauntlet SAMs in VLS cells scattered around the deck. However, the Ulyanovsk-class departed from previous Soviet carrier designs in that they were not equipped with ASW weapons, sonar, and large guns. 
     The lead ship of the Ulyanovsk-class, the Ulyanovsk, was under construction when the USSR collapsed in 1991, and was scrapped in 1994 and her metal sold on the world metal market, as was the metal being readied for the second ship. However, there are rumblings that the Ulyanovsk-class design may be used for China's future aircraft carriers (unfortunately the Aviation Week article that I was going to link to is no longer available, so here is a blog post I wrote a year ago with some links on the subject).
     The Ulyanovsk-class was a rather interesting aircraft carrier design, but ultimately was a colossal boondoggle for the USSR, sapping precious resources from more valuable projects. The USSR attempted to build ships that were equal to U.S. Navy ships, rather than concentrating on submarines and cruise missiles which would have been cheap and and hard to kill solutions. In other words, we out spent them, and in trying to catch up they bankrupted themselves.

Photo Credit: Harpoon HQ, K.E. Cepreeb

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