US may build one aircraft carrier every three years and no new Russian carriers

The US Navy would be able to buy aircraft carriers more quickly and increase its carrier fleet from 11 to 12 under 2018 budget plans being written by the House Armed Services Committee.

The legislation unveiled by the committee Tuesday calls for a new carrier every three years rather than the current pace of one every five years, and would order the service to maintain a dozen of the ships after 2023.

The plans will be rolled into the committee’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which will set defense policy and priorities for 2018, but any sped-up acquisition of carriers will depend on future funding from Congress, according to committee staff.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has officially postponed the development of a new aircraft carrier and a new class of nuclear-powered destroyers for the Russian Navy.

The decision to postpone these two flagship projects for the Russian Navy were reported by Russian daily Kommersant in mid-May, following a meeting between Putin and military leaders dedicated to drafting a rearmament agenda through 2025. The program will be a follow-on to a 19 trillion ruble (U.S. $337 billion) effort began in 2011, which ends in 2020. Despite the naval deferral, Russian rearmament will continue to focus heavily on strengthening its nuclear triad until at least 2025.

Russia 2025 military procurement program in brief

According to Kommersant, the outlines of the next Russian modernization program will focus heavily on building up Russia’s nuclear triad. The document reportedly calls for the completion of three intercontinental ballistic missile development programs: the RS-26 Rubezh (a development of the Yars-M), RS-28 Sarmat and the rail-based Bagruzin by 2020.

While the full scope of the 2025 program remains unknown, it will continue to focus on the procurement of fighter aircraft such as the Sukhoi Su-30 and Su-35 Flanker derivatives, as well as larger orders of the new T-50 stealth fighter, Kommersant reported. Development of a new long-range bomber is also expected while production of the Tupolev Tu-160 is relaunched.

As for the Navy, the 2025 program will again prioritize the construction of new nuclear submarines and small (no larger than frigate-type) surface combatants. Although Russia’s new Borei- and Yasen-class submarine fleets have yet to be completed, the 2025 program calls for a new fifth-generation ballistic missile submarine known as the Husky class.

Naval rearmament

What was most telling about Putin’s 2025 modernization planning session was what didn’t make the cut: specifically the construction of a new aircraft carrier and the development of a nuclear-powered destroyer. Together, this signals the further postponement of Russia’s restored blue-water naval ambitions.

Russia’s only aircraft carrier is getting an overhaul.