India-Pakistan: February 16, 2000


India's plans for conversion of the Russian aircraft carrier Gorshkov show a far more extensive rebuild than was anticipated. The "cruiser" portion of the ship (from the bow to the bridge) will be stripped of its weapons (anti-ship missiles, anti-aircraft missiles, anti-submarine mortars) and the flight deck will be extended into this area, being about twice as wide at the bow as the ship is now. The 30mm gatling guns and short-range anti-aircraft missiles will be removed, and the flight deck will be enlarged by adding extensions in various areas. The existing flight deck will be extended a couple of meters (to 198m) and will be used only for landings. Planes taking off will start about the middle of the landing deck and take a 195m run to and over the 14 ski jump. The resulting ship will have virtually no armament, but will be able to operate a full squadron of MiG-29 fighters far more efficiently than the original design operated a small number of Freehand jump jets. The one great drawback will be the elevators. The original Soviet design has two, one being 19x10m with a 30 ton capacity (beside the superstructure) and the other being 18x5 meters with a 20-ton capacity (to the rear of the superstructure). As the Gorshkov was built with a "closed hangar" and inboard elevators, it would be all but impossible to convert it to the American system of deck-edge elevators and an open hangar. --Stephen V Cole


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