Key Note: When compared with Pakistani costal defenses, it's easy to conclude that India's aircraft carriers don't bring much to a fight.

关键提示-与巴基斯坦的沿海防御相比,很容易得出这样的结论:印度的航空母舰对战斗没有太大作用。

The Indian Navy has put out a proposal for its third aircraft carrier, tentatively titled the Vishal due to enter service in the latter 2020s. The 65,000-ton Vishal will be significantly larger than India’s sole current carrier, the Vikramaditya known formerly as the ex-Soviet Admiral Gorshkov, and the incoming second one, the domestically-built Vikrantwhich is expected to enter service later in 2018.

印度海军提出了建造第三艘航母的计划,暂名为维萨尔号,预计在2020年后期服役。65000吨的维萨尔号将大大超过印度目前唯一的航母维克拉玛蒂亚号,也就是前苏联戈尔什科夫海军上将号,以及即将到来的第二艘国产维克兰特号,后者预计将于2018年晚些时候服役。

To see why Vishal is a big deal for the Indian Navy, one needs only to look at her proposed air wing — some 57 fighters, more than Vikramaditya — 24 MiG-29Ks — and Vikrant‘s wing of around 30 MiG-29Ks. While below the 75+ aircraft aboard a U.S. Navy Gerald R. Ford-class supercarrier, Vishal will be a proper full-size carrier and India’s first, as the preceding two are really small-deck carriers and limited in several significant ways.

要知道为什么维萨尔号对印度海军来说很重要,只需要看看她计划的飞行装备——大约57架战机,比维克拉玛蒂亚号多——24米格-29ks,也比维克兰特号——大约30架米格-29ks。美国海军杰拉尔德·r·福特级超级航母上的飞机超过75架,而维萨尔号将是一艘真正的全尺寸航母,也是印度的第一艘,因为前两艘都是真正的小甲板航母,而且在几个重要方面受到限制。

The Indian Navy is also looking at an electromagnetic launch system for its third carrier, similar to the one aboard the Ford class. India’s first two carriers have STOBAR configurations, in which aircraft launch with the assistance of a ski-jump, which limits the maximum weight a plane can lift into the air. Typically this means that fighters must sacrifice weapons, or fuel thus limiting range, or a combination of both.

印度海军也在研究第三艘航母的电磁发射系统,类似于福特级航母。印度最早的两家航空公司采用短距起飞阻拦降落结构,即飞机起飞时借助滑跃,这限制了飞机能够升到空中的最大重量。通常情况下,这意味着战斗机必须牺牲武器或燃料(因为会限制航程),或者两者都牺牲。

The Indian Navy is searching for a foreign-sourced twin-engine fighter for the Vishal, with the U.S. F/A-18 and French Rafale in the running, and India has already ordered 36 multi-role Rafales for its air force. This is a blow to advocates of an Indian-made fighter for the carrier such as naval version of the delta-wing HAL Tejas, which is too heavy for carrier work

印度海军正在为维萨尔号寻求采购一种外国产双引擎战斗机,美国F/a-18和法国“阵风”战斗机也在竞争中,印度已经为其空军订购了36架多用途阵风战斗机。这对于印度为航母自产战斗机的支持者来说是一个打击,比如三角翼的HAL战机的海军版,这种战机对于航母来说太重了。


These smaller carriers probably have fewer operational fighters than they do on paper, given that the air wings likely have serviceability rates below 100 percent. Vikramaditya by itself could have significantly less than 24 MiGs capable of flying — and fighting.

这些小型航空母舰上有作战能力的战斗机可能比纸面上的要少,因为这些飞机的可用性可能低于100%。维克拉玛蒂亚号自身拥有的具备飞行能力和战斗能力的米格机明显少于24架。

Now imagine a scenario in which these carriers go to battle.

现在想象一下这些航母参战的场景。

Most likely, India would attempt to enforce a blockade of Pakistan and use its carriers to strike land-based targets. But Pakistan has several means to attack Indian carriers — with near-undetectable submarines and anti-ship missiles — which must also operate relatively far from India itself in the western and northern Arabian Sea. China does not have a similar disadvantage, as the PLAN would likely keep its carriers close and within the “first island chain” including Taiwan, closer to shore where supporting aircraft and ground-based missile launchers can help out.

最有可能的是,印度将试图对巴基斯坦实施封锁,并使用其航空母舰打击陆基目标。但巴基斯坦有几种攻击印度航母的手段——几乎无法探测的潜艇和反舰导弹——也导致这些航母必须在距离印度相对较远的阿拉伯海西部和北部行动。中国没有类似的劣势,因为PLA海军很可能将其航母保持在包括台湾在内的“第一岛链”内,更靠近海岸,支援飞机和陆基导弹发射器可以帮助解决问题。

Thus, Indian carriers would be relatively vulnerable and only one of them will have aircraft capable of launching with standard ordnance and fuel. And that is after Vishal sets sail in the next decade.

因此,印度航母将相对脆弱,只有其中一艘的飞机能够使用标准的弹药和燃料起飞。这还是未来十年维萨尔号扬帆起航之后的情况。

To directly threaten Pakistan, the small-deck carriers will have to maneuver nearer to shore — and thereby closer to “anti-access / area denial” weapons which could sink them. And even with a third carrier, the threat of land-based Pakistani aircraft will force the Indian Navy to dedicate a large proportion of its own air wings to defense — perhaps half of its available fighters, according to 2017 paper by Ben Wan Beng Ho for the Naval War College Review.

为了直接威胁巴基斯坦,这些小甲板航母将不得不靠近海岸,从而更接近能够击沉它们的“反介入/区域拒止”武器。甚至有了第三艘航母,巴基斯坦陆基飞机的威胁也将迫使印度海军将自己大部分飞机用于防御——根据Ben Wan Beng Ho在2017年为《海军战争学院评论》撰写的论文,可能需要将其可用飞机中的一半(用于防御)。

“Therefore, it is doubtful that any attack force launched from an Indian carrier would pack a significant punch,” Ho writes. “With aircraft available for strike duties barely numbering into the double digits, the Indian carrier simply cannot deliver a substantial ‘pulse’ of combat power against its adversary.”

他写道:“因此,从印度航母上起飞的任何攻击力量都不能带来重大打击……由于可供执行打击任务的飞机数量勉强达到两位数,印度航母根本无法向其对手打出实质性的战斗‘波’。”

Essentially, this makes Indian carriers’ self-defeating, with the flattops existing primarily to defend themselves from attack rather than taking the fight to their enemy. Carriers are also expensive symbols of national prestige, and it is unlikely the Indian Navy will want to risk losing one, two or all three. Under the circumstances, India’s investment in carriers makes more sense symbolically, and primarily as a way of keeping shipyards busy and shipyard workers employed.

从本质上说,这使得印度的航母弄巧成拙,因为这些航母的存在主要是为了防御攻击,而不是与敌人战斗。航空母舰也是国家威望的昂贵象征,印度海军不太可能冒险失去一艘、两艘或全部三艘。在这种情况下,印度对航母的投资更具象征意义,而且主要是作为一种保持造船厂繁忙和造船厂工人就业的方式。



Another possibility is India massing its carriers in the later stages of a war after the Army and Air Force pummel and degrade the Pakistani military.

另一种可能性是,印度在其陆军和空军打击并削弱巴基斯坦军队后,在战争后期集结航母。

But this raises the question as to whether India strictly needs carriers at all if it cannot use them during the decisive periods of a conflict — as opposed to, say, less-expensive warships, and more of them, equipped with long-range missiles.

但这就提出了一个问题:如果印度不能在冲突的决定性时期使用航母,那么它是否完全需要航母——而不是,比如说建造更多、更便宜、且配备远程导弹的军舰。