(Project 23000E Shtorm carrier concept art.Krylovsky State Research Center (KRSC) Photo via USNI News)
A Russian state-run media website recently reported that Moscow plans to build the "biggest aircraft carrier in the world" to compete with the US's 11 full-sized Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.
The new Russian carrier concept, called the "Shtorm," would match the size of the US's current carriers, displacing about 100,000 tons and carrying a similar number of aircraft, despite the the site's claim that it would be the biggest carrier in the world.
"On the Russian ship's deck there were about 30 planes, while an American aircraft carrier can carry up to 90," a Russian defense official told the site, Russia Beyond The Headlines, comparing the Kuznetsov to US carriers. "Also, the take-off speed on the Admiral Kuznetsov was a few minutes, while on an American aircraft carrier three planes can take off in one minute. Moreover, there are many tasks that the Russian ship cannot perform today. Therefore, Russia needs a new modern aircraft carrier."
(Planes practice taking off from Russia's only aircraft carrier on it's way to support Assad in Aleppo.Norwegian Navy)
While Russia does field a "global navy" of an impressive number of ships with potent and long-range offensive capabilities, it sorely lacks the power projection provided by aircraft carriers. The Kuznetsov was built mainly for coastal defense, and without a nuclear power plant, needs considerable support to travel between theaters.
Under sanctions for Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and hounded by the low cost of oil, the site admits that Moscow would struggle to fund the carrier project, and even beyond the ship, it would need to build 90 or so planes.
While they do have carrier-based planes, like the MiG-29K, the Shtorm concept calls for T-50 planes, Russia's proposed entry into the fifth generation of combat aircraft. The T-50's production, like the Shtorm's, has been plagued with underperforming results while promising big increases to Russia's combat capability.
(While Russia does have a flying T-50 prototype, the navalized version still only exists on paper.Wikipedia Commons)
Critics of the T-50 have called it fifth generation "in name only" as it fails to deliver on stealth and advanced avionics like the US F-22 and F-35.