In the next decade, Russia aims to construct and deliver to its Navy two helicopter carrier vessels.
A source told Tass News Agency on May 31, 2017, “The development of the helicopter carriers will begin in 2018, and the pilot model will be completed in 2020 and delivered to the fleet in 2024. The sole follow-on ship will be built in 2022 and delivered to the fleet in 2026.”
The source added, “The helicopter carriers will have a combined diesel or gas propulsion, in which diesel engines are the main propulsion, while the turbine will be needed for high speed.
“The ships will primarily carry Ka-52K helicopters, as well as Ka-27, Ka-29 and Ka-31 helicopters. The rotorcraft will be delivered at the same time as the carriers,” he said.
Tass stressed it had no independent confirmation of the source’s information.
No manufacturer has been selected yet for the helicopter carrier vessels. Their construction is part of the state armament program for 2018-2025, which is currently being crafted by Russian government officials.
While plans for a new aircraft carrier have likely been mothballed for the time being, the development of helicopter carriers is believed to be one of the priorities for the Navy.
Russia has developed two separate helicopter carrier designs, the Priboy and Lavina. The ships are intended as a replacement for the Mistral helicopter carriers that Russia sought to acquire from France. Though the sale was concluded, delivery did not occur due to a deterioration in relations between the West and Russia over the situation in Ukraine.
The two sides terminated the contract and Russia received its payments back; the Mistrals were later exported to Egypt.
It is unclear if Tass’ source referred to both models of helicopter carriers, though the report itself referenced just the 14,000-ton Priboy carrier. A model of the ship was displayed in 2015, and has since been shown with model Ka-52 helicopters on board. It will also be able to carry Ka-29s. For armaments, Priboy will be equipped with Kinzhal and Pantsir-M surface-to-air missiles and a 100mm A-190 artillery mount.