In the third decade of the 21st century, the only carrier of the Russian Navy, the Kuznetsov, maintained this controversial anti-ship missile system.

In contrast, after China purchased the Varyag (a ship similar to the Kuznetsov, now the Liaoning carrier), in the course of subsequent completion, 12 heavy anti-ship missile launchers were removed, to increase the aircraft compartment area.

By the Shandong version, based on the Liaoning design, China has completely abandoned the design of the heavy anti-ship missile layout below deck. As a result, the number of fighters in Shandong increased to 36 (while the Liaoning only carries a maximum of 24), so the combat capability of the air wing has been greatly enhanced.

Given that the number of aircraft on a carrier is an important indicator, to measure her combat effectiveness, why not the Russian Navy do the same thing on Kuznetsov as the Shandong? Why does Russia still place missiles on aircraft carriers, which affects her combat effectiveness?

Admiral Kuznetsov Carrier
Admiral Kuznetsov Carrier

This philosophy of the Russian Navy is influenced by a long history dating back to the Soviet era. In the past, the Soviet leader also intended to build a powerful carrier fleet, like the navies of Western nations. However, World War II changed plans, and especially the introduction of anti-ship missiles, changing the minds of Soviet Army leaders.

The Soviet Union developed a wide range of anti-ship missiles, from P-5 anti-ship missiles to P-700 Granit when the Soviet Union disintegrated. Admittedly, the Soviet anti-ship missiles caused panic and anxiety for the US and Western navies.

It was not until the end of the Cold War that the Soviet Union began to design real aircraft carriers. However, Soviet military leaders maintained that a Soviet carrier with long-range anti-ship missiles could create an asymmetrical advantage over the aircraft carrier of the US Navy, which had only aircraft.

In fact, the Soviet navy lagged far behind the United States in the carrier field. To gain an advantage for the Soviet navy in a confrontation with the mighty US Navy Fleet, the Soviet Union built aircraft carriers but still armed with a large number of long-range missiles.

Time has entered the 21st century, inheriting the legacy of the Soviet Union, and the distance between the Russian Navy and the US Navy becomes even greater. Russia cannot maintain a regular presence in the oceans as it did in the Soviet era.

Based on the Cold War philosophy mentioned above, when the number and size of ships of the Russian Navy is insufficient; therefore, Russian naval ships need to be equipped with anti-ship missiles, capable of forming an asymmetrical capability, at least in the short term.


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