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Capability gaps hamper Varan aircraft carrier

17th February 2021 - 18:44 GMT | by Eugene Gerden in St Petersburg

A somewhat unfamiliar design — and the lack in Russia of a carrier-based AWACS capability — suggest that the Nevsky Design Bureau has bitten off more than it can chew.

The Russian Navy is investing much hope in construction of the new Varan aircraft carrier, also known as the ‘Universal Sea Ship’, which was unveiled in January 2021 by United Shipbuilding Corporation subsidiary Nevsky Design Bureau (PKB).

As currently planned, Varan would accommodate 24 multi-role aircraft, six helicopters and up to 20 UAVs — potentially delivering a massive boost for Russian naval force projection capabilities. 

Yet there is at least one crucial missing ingredient, according to military analyst Vladimir Tuchkov. While traditional Russian naval aviation aircraft such as the  MiG-29K/KUB or naval versions of the Su-35 and Su-57 could find a

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Eugene Gerden


Eugene Gerden

Eugene Gerden is a Shephard correspondent based in St Petersburg.

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