UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


LMA - Light Multipurpose Aircraft Carrier

The 44,000 ton Light Multi-purpose Aircraft carrier [LMA] design provides a flight deck equivalent to a much larger carrier with a displacement of over 60,000 tons. The innovation of the LMA is that the hangar below the flight deck is used for aircraft maintenance, rather than storage. The result is a rather large flight deck on a relatively small hull. The LMA is a "fair weather" carrier for which the default location of the air wing is on the flight deck, rather than below on the hangar deck. Aircraft are transported between the decks by relatively small elevators along the flight deck center-line, rather than large elevators on the edges of the flight deck. Naval architects note that steel is cheap and air is free, but this evidently is not strictly true. A radical reduction in the functionality and volume of the hangar deck results in a substantial reduction in total displacement, and project cost. This is the most significant innovation in aircraft carrie design since the twin island design of the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth class.

The fate of a bold project - the light multi-purpose aircraft carrier Storm-KM - with a displacement of 37 to 44 thousand tons, first introduced to the general public, is also unclear. His heavy nuclear fellow Storm, KGNC showed at the International Maritime Defense Show in St. Petersburg in 2013. The project of a ship with a displacement of 100,000 tons turned out to be too large-scale. So Krylov decided to start with a smaller aircraft carrier.

The Krylov State Research Center (KGNC) presented the model of a Light Multi-purpose Aircraft carrier [Legkii Mnogocelevoi Avianosec / Legkogo Mnogocelevogo Avianosca] at the Army-2018 International Military-Technical Forum for the first time in August 2018. The original configuration of the hull made it possible to make a huge deck and place on the aircraft carrier a full displacement of 44,000 tons to 46 aircraft, including heavy and light fighters, various helicopters and long-range radar surveillance aircraft. For comparison, on a heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov with a displacement of 60,000 tons, the project provides for the deployment of 50 aircraft and helicopters, in reality they were always much less.

The design maximizes the area of the deck used for the storage and maintenance of aircraft, with a minimum hangar, mainly for aircraft repair. There are three narrow elevators, along the centerline of the flightdeck, rather than on the edges as is normal practice. "The light multipurpose aircraft carrier is designed to ensure combat sustainability of the fleet’s forces and weapons which are engaged in hostilities in blue and green waters by fulfilling anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense tasks as well as by destroying air, surface, underwater and onshore targets," KGCN said in its documents. There are no exhaust stacks, the "exhaust" will be drained down along the sides. This, in particular, will also reduce the visibility of the ship.

According to the representative of KGNC, the project was developed for export, including to Latin America and South-East Asia, which are not regional superpowers. Compared with the full-size aircraft carrier, the new ship turned out to be cheaper to create and operate. The closest analogue is the Indian light aircraft carrier "Vikramaditya".

According to the head of the center, Vladimir Nikitin, the air wing of the novelty is identical to the heavy aircraft carriers. "This aircraft carrier is different in that it has a high-quality air wing the same as a heavy aircraft carrier. These are heavy Su-33 fighters, light MiG-29K fighters, multipurpose and rescue helicopters, four radar patrol aircraft, and only 46 aircraft." Nikitin also noted that the cost of a new ship could be several hundred billion rubles, that is, almost half as much as a full-sized one.

Most likely, the new ship will accommodate the new generation aircraft, based on the Su-35. In this case, light fighters are likely to remain in the same version - the MiG-29K, since this aircraft is "developed and serially produced." "Such a nomenclature ensures high-quality performance of any tasks," Nikitin stressed.

Among the shortcomings of the ship, the creators note restrictions on the stock of aircraft fuel and aircraft ammunition, which reduces the intensity of combat operations of the aircraft carrier. However, this problem is solved by using a complex supply ship, which will replenish the aircraft carrier with ammunition and fuel. As a result, the new aircraft carrier received full functionality: the ship can carry out air defense, strike, search for submarines and effectively deal with them, but it must always be supplied and transported, said Sudostroenie.info from KGNC.

According to the information provided by the "Krylovians", the LMA is designed to ensure the combat stability of the grouping of forces and equipment of the fleet when it performs combat operations in the far sea and ocean areas by solving air defense, air, surface, underwater and coastal targets. The main dimensions of the light multi-purpose aircraft carrier (on the constructive waterline) are 304 (260) meters x 78 (38) meters x 23 (8.5) meters. LMA is supposed to be equipped with a gas turbine main power plant of four turbines with a total design capacity of 81,000 kW. According to the developers, this will give an opportunity to develop a course of 28 knots. The autonomy of the LMA for provisions should be 60 days. Its deck aviation will be able to carry out take-off and landing operations at roughness up to 7 points.

Ship borne arms include four Pantsyr-ME anti-aircraft missile gun systems with target detection units. The Paket complexes comprising four 324 mm torpedo launchers ensure protection against torpedoes. Four rocket-assisted bomb throwers as well as active and passive electronic warfare systems can be deployed on the ship. Air-launched weapons stock is up to 600 tons; Aviation kerosene stock is up to 2,000 tons.

As for the current stage of the creation of the ship, the conceptual design was completed in 2017. At present, the technical feasibility of the project has been confirmed, estimates of the cost and location of construction have been carried out (the most likely candidate is Sevmash). Everything is ready for further design, add in the Krylov SRC.

The question of the possibility of building an aircraft of the "aircraft carrier" class in modern Russia, as well as the very demand for such a ship in the Russian Navy, are extremely polemical topics. Among other things, this is proved by the practice in the domestic defense industry, in which public statements by representatives of the country's military and political leadership on the need to build aircraft carriers do not lead to the beginning of the relevant design work.

It is not for nothing that recently the Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov correctly informed that issues related to the construction of an aircraft carrier for the Russian Navy are under discussion. In addition, the minister was able to "accurately say that helicopter carriers in the pure sense of the word will not be built."

Thus, the hopes of the "Krylovites" that the model of the heavy multi-purpose aircraft carrier "Storm" demonstrated by them in July 2013 will someday turn into a real ship, weakened literally every year. With this in mind, the Krylov State Research Center decided to follow the strategy of "a better bird in the hand than a crane in the sky." In addition to the previously developed concept of a heavy aircraft carrier with a total displacement of 100,000 tons, carrying up to 90 aircraft, the Krylovites offered the Navy a new conceptual project of an "economy class". They became the concept of a light multi-purpose aircraft carrier (LMA).

The head of the sector of the project department of FSUE Krylov State Research Center Alexei Litsis justified the demand for such a ship with the following arguments. First, if our navy claims to be an oceanic, then it can not do without an aircraft carrier in the ocean zone. To build the same LMA, capable of providing a proper air cover to a ship grouping away from its native coasts, is objectively simpler, faster and cheaper than if it is immediately aimed at a heavy aircraft carrier. Secondly, the LMA export potential is much higher than that of the same "Storm".

On 25 April 2018 Deputy Commander of the Navy for armament V. Bursuk (the customer) stated: "The fleet believes that it is inexpedient to build light aircraft carriers for Russia from the economic point of view (price-quality ratio) for Russia ... The project of a prospective aircraft carrier has not yet been developed and its TTX is still called early, but it is already clear that the displacement will be about 70,000 tons, which will allow carrying more aircraft on board." But in August 2018, the newly-appointed general director of the Nevsky Design Bureau (the developer of all domestic aircraft-carrying cruisers) S. Orlov said that "KGNC has its own vision of the future aircraft-carrying complex of Russia, and we try not to argue with them."

A light aircraft carrier with a semi-submarine submarine part was proposed to be built by the staff of the Krylov State Research Center. According to TASS, the project was presented at the Army-2018 forum in late August 2018. Previously, such a technical solution during the construction of catamarans was not offered.

The new advance project of the Russian aircraft carrier received a unique submerged part in the form of a semi-tatamaran, such a scheme has not yet been offered to aircraft carriers. The a new non-nuclear multi-purpose aircraft carrier pre-project had not yet received the name.

“The main feature of this project is the construction of the underwater part. It implements the semi-tamaramara form of the hull,” a center representative told TASS. The catamarans have two parallel hulls connected by a superstructure platform. The scheme of the new aircraft carrier is called a Polukatamaranom [semi-catamaran], since two separate ship hulls in the stern converge into one at the bow.

The hull of virtually all conventional ships and boats has a so-called monohull-configuration. The term "monohull" denotes a hull which is constructed of a single water displacing body. A monohull typically narrows in cross-section toward the front thereof to define a pointed bow which facilitates the ship's ability to cut efficiently through the water. But a monohull is otherwise relatively wide and a good portion thereof remains submerged at all times below the water surface. This enables a monohull to withstand and to remain more stable in rough seas. However, because a large portion of the monohull is submerged at all times, a monohull produces greater drag at high speeds, i.e. resistance to motion, which results in a ship whose top speed is limited and/or which requires more powerful engines.

A catamaran is a type of a ship which has a different hull structure which has been known for a long time to reduce drag and to result in a faster ship or boat. The hull of a catamaran consists of a pair of hulls each of which is comparatively narrow and long. The catamaran hulls are laterally spaced and typically held together by the deck or by the superstructure of the ship.

Catamarans offer the advantages of reduced drag which permit catamarans to attain speeds not possible with a monohull and/or the option of being equipped with less powerful and therefore less expensive engines. However, as is well known to those skilled in the marine arts, catamarans suffer from the serious disadvantage that they are considerably less stable in rough seas and from a propensity for submarining their forward hulls into large head seas which can result in the forward end of the hull "digging in" and the vessel flipping end for end.

The hull of virtually all conventional ships and boats has a so-called monohull-configuration. The term "monohull" denotes a hull which is constructed of a single water displacing body. A monohull typically narrows in cross-section toward the front thereof to define a pointed bow which facilitates the ship's ability to cut efficiently through the water. But a monohull is otherwise relatively wide and a good portion thereof remains submerged at all times below the water surface. This enables a monohull to withstand and to remain more stable in rough seas. However, because a large portion of the monohull is submerged at all times, a monohull produces greater drag at high speeds, i.e. resistance to motion, which results in a ship whose top speed is limited and/or which requires more powerful engines.

The V-hull design provides capabilities of traversing waters with significant waves while lessening their jarring effects by virtue of its ability to "cut" through the waves. However, a V-hull is also susceptible to greater rolling, for example due to steering changes, and is less efficient when moving at high speeds across relatively calm waters than are flatter bottom hulls or catamarans which will normally plane more easily. By the same token, those hulls that plane most easily, and hence are more efficient for travel at higher speeds, are also more susceptible to being adversely affected by larger waves, and their uses can be limited by their difficulties in handling turbulent waters.

According to a company representative, the new scheme allows using a wide flight deck with a smaller displacement, as in heavier-class aircraft carriers. From the area of the deck depends on the composition and number of aircraft. "As a result, a ship with an average displacement can accommodate a full deck wing," the expert explained. According to him, earlier when creating aircraft carriers, this form of hull was not used.

The center specified that for the new aircraft carrier the estimated total displacement is 44 thousand tons, length - 304 m, deck width - 78 m, draft - 8.5 m, full speed - 28 knots, range - 8 thousand miles. The aircraft wing should consist of 46 aircraft, including 12-14 Su-33 fighters, 12-14 MiG-29K / KUB, four long-range radar detection and control aircraft, 12-14 Ka-27 helicopters. For comparison: the only Russian medium aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, with a substantially larger total displacement of 59 thousand tons (more than 15 thousand tons) has practically the same air group - up to 52 airplanes and helicopters.

The latest Russian fifth-generation fighters, the Su-57, will be able to base themselves on a new aircraft carrier provided they are adapted to the ship, that is, “wetted,” Pavel Filippov, head of the Krylovsky State Scientific Center, said 10 July 2019 in an interview with RIA Novosti. The Krylovsky Center has developed a new concept for a non-nuclear multi-purpose aircraft carrier for the Russian Navy with a displacement of 40 thousand tons. Its cost is 200 billion rubles, the construction time is five years.

“Theoretically, it is possible to take a certain amount of these aircraft (Su-57, - ed) on board provided they are“ wetted ”, that is, lighter weight, changes in some structural elements. This is possible during adaptation work,” Filippov said. At the same time, he noted that so far this aircraft has not been considered as a carrier-based aircraft of the Russian Navy.

Military observer, retired colonel Viktor Litovkin on Sputnik radio noted that various models of aircraft are suitable as carrier-based aviation. “While there is no approved aircraft carrier design, it’s still too early to say which aircraft will be based on it. But why not - the Su-57 can be placed on an aircraft carrier. In principle, any fighter can be adapted to land and take off We need a hook - a device so that it clings to the aerofinisher on the deck, we need stiffer chassis, a lot of things. But first you need to decide which aircraft carrier we need. We also need to have docks of a sufficiently large size for the construction of an aircraft carrier - they only st swarm. And then you can talk about airplanes, "said Victor Litovkin.

At the same time, according to him, there is a need to talk not only about fighters for a new aircraft carrier. "We need to talk not only about multi-functional fighters. An aircraft carrier, in principle, also needs a long-range radar patrol and guidance aircraft. And, of course, an aircraft carrier also needs a motorcade of cruisers, destroyers, frigates and so on. Therefore, the theme of an aircraft carrier is a very big one , a complex and costly topic," said Victor Litovkin.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list