Indian Carriers, and amphibious Australians…

So…better late than never, right?


The story of the Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier Gorshkov (it has yet to settle on an actual Indian name) would be the stuff of HBO comedies. The aircraft carrier was laid down in 1978 as the as the Baku, and launched in 1982. The ship did not begin regular sea excursions until 1987, however, because of troubles with the software system which were to be worked out for a future regular carrier, the Admiral Kuznetzov. The ship was to be populated with the Yak-38 Forger, a Soviet version of the Harrier that, like all Soviet copies, never seemed to work quite as reliably as it’s Western counterpart. In 1991, following the breakup of the Soviet Union, it was renamed Admiral Gorshkov now that it’s namesake city was in a newly independent country. (bit of a faux pas, that one)

In 1994 while going through trials with the Yak-38M, a supersonic version of the Forger, the ship suffered a boiler explosion and was put into dock for repairs where it stayed due to the increasing financial difficulties of the Russian state. Eventually India approached the Russian government with an offer to purchase the carrier on the agreement that it would be converted into a STOBAR launch configuration, roughly similar to the skijump used on the HMS Hermes during the Falklands War and now operated by the Indians as the HMS Vikrant.

The Russians already had a long history of exploring fixed-wing carrier aviation: the Admiral Kuznetzov was in operation by that point and flying Sukhoi Flanker aircraft modified with arrestor hooks for naval operation. The Indianstook issue with that part of the bargain, though, as they didn’t operate Flankers. They did, however, operate MiG 29 Fulcrums, and the Russians had developed a naval variant of the MiG 29 in the 1980s as a possible choice in case the Flanker didn’t work out. So the Indians, not content to buy a Russian carrier on the condition that the Russians rebuild it, then decided to revive a dead Soviet aircraft program to fly off it.

That was 2004. Now, in 2012, flight tests are beginning to proceed on the carrier itself, hopefully to a satisfactory conclusion.





According to, there’s been some recent movements forward in the Australian military’s wishes to increase it’s expeditionary capability. In mid-2006, after it’s experiences overseeing and calming chaotic situations in East Timor and Indonesia, the Australians expressed alot of interest in a marked increase in their amphibious capacity so as to provide improvements to future peacekeeping missions. One proposal was an LHD, or Landing Helicopter (Dock), which has been used by the United States Marine Corps and the Royal Navy (most famously during the Falklands War) for amphibious operations, and was at that time under construction for the Spanish Navy. Another competing concept, this one put forward by Thales Australia, was for a modification on the French Mistral-class assault ship which was being marketed and sold to the Russian Navy.

The LHD design was the victor, and construction began on the heels of the Spanish ship’s completion. Two ships have been ordered, in their current incarnations will be able to serve as amphibious landing ships, medical facilities, floating HQs, and even carriers for V/STOL aircaft.


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