By TASS Russian news agency
After the Cold War, universal amphibious assault ships developed from support means of major Navy formations into independent units capable of combat and humanitarian missions. They demonstrate the flag, deliver troops, engage in patrol and support bigger warships. The Russian shipbuilding industry has focused on such naval hardware of late.
One of the projects is Varan designed by Nevskoe Bureau. It is a major Russian designer of universal ships and the sole designer of aircraft carriers and simulators.
The bureau said Varan is distinguished by multirole structure (unified platform), which can produce several types of big surface warships, including an aircraft carrier, landing ship, hospital vessel, and even a support vessel for the Arctic.
“It is a new approach in domestic and global shipbuilding. The project will represent a new class of naval hardware — universal sea complexes (UMK),”
Varan is an aircraft-carrying ship distinguished by a high level of automation. It can carry 24 multirole fighters, six helicopters, and 20 drones.
“The airpower of Varan will include seaborne MiG-29K fighter jets and their modifications, as well as prospective aircraft, including vertical takeoff and landing jets. They will provide balanced and effective engagement corresponding to modern and prospective foreign aircraft-carrying complexes”
The airpower includes future UAVs. The ship has a high automatic control integrated into the command system.
Varan displacement is close to 45 thousand tons. It is 250-meter long and 65-meter wide. The draft by the construction waterline is 9 meters. The warship can develop a speed of 26 knots.
The bureau said the hull will be modular to promote a high construction pace. Equipment is built into the main units of the ship to minimize overhaul time and costs during operation.
Varan is to be powered by a gas turbine unified with propulsion units of the Russian Navy. “The warship will receive available general systems to decrease construction costs,” the bureau said.
Varan has the size and displacement that fit for construction by any major Russian shipyard without a considerable upgrade of facilities. “It will help build a series of warships and decrease the cost and time of construction,” the bureau said.
Varan price will not exceed the cost of currently built warships of similar displacement, it added.
Varan is at the stage of preliminary design and some of its main units are at the stage of frontend engineering. “The general scheme and the scheme of the main power plant and electric system have been designed and a 3D model of the hull created,” said the bureau, which is developing the project on its own initiative. It also plans to create an export option of Varan.
“The concept of Varan positions it in the global market as an innovative and balanced sea platform that meets all the modern tasks of the Russian Navy in the World Ocean. Project priority focuses on economic feasibility and combat effectiveness to maintain the military-political status of the country,”
There are no direct foreign analogues of Varan at present. The leading shipbuilders in the world produce universal landing ships for a number of missions, however there are no universal complexes on a single platform and with unified components.
By displacement, Varan is similar to US America-class ships. The US Navy currently operates two of them — the America and the Tripoli. Another warship, the Bougainville was laid in March 2019. The warships have a high cost of 3.3-3.4 billion dollars each.
China is actively building landing ships of Type 075. Three warships are at various construction stages. Their number is to increase to eight. The Chinese ship has a smaller displacement than Varan (40 thousand tons against 45 thousand).