Skip to comments.Why Does One of the World’s Smallest Navies Want One of the World’s Biggest Warships?
Posted on 12/04/2013 9:52:50 PM PST by sukhoi-30mki
Angolas bizarre, rumored aircraft carrier ambition David Axe in War is Boring Angola is in the process of acquiring the recently-decommissioned Spanish aircraft carrier Principe de Asturias, according to one news report. The entire Angolan navy has just 1,000 sailors. The 643-foot-long Principe de Asturias needs 830 sailors to fully function.
No, this does not make a lot of sense. After all, Angola has no overseas military alliances and no major naval rivals. But if true, it is consistent with the countrys ongoing re-armament, which also includes a squadron of Russian-made heavy jet fighters formerly used by India.
Necessary or not, Angola is potentially buying one of West and Southern Africas most powerful military arsenals.
Principe de Asturias commissioned in 1988 and for the next 25 years served as Spains flagship, carrying a squadron of Harrier jump jets and helicopters on peacekeeping patrols and training missions.
At just 16,700 tons displacement fully loaded, shes among the smallest of the worlds aircraft carriers. Many of Americas flattops exceed 100,000 tons displacement. But Principe de Asturias still ranks among the worlds largest and most powerful warships, thanks to her ability to launch jets and helicopters.
While not exactly old, this year Spain replaced the diminutive flattop with a new, jet-compatible amphibious assault ship. Principe de Asturias was to be dismantled this year, but sudden interest from Angolan officials reportedly put that plan on hold. According to Spanish news Website Digital El Confidential, an Angolan delegation visited Ferrol shipyard to inspect the laid-up carrier.
Spanish officials have declined to confirm Angolas interest. There are still countries interested in buying the aircraft carrier, but nothing firm, a government rep said.
Spain will reportedly sell Principe de Asturias to Angola along with four decommissioned patrol ships. The Angolan navy currently possesses only a handful of Russian-made attack craft each weighing in at just a few hundred tons displacement. The Spanish acquisitions, if they are truly more than rumors, will expand the Angolan fleet by an order of magnitude and compel the navy to add thousands of new sailors.
Whether Angola can recruit and train the required personnel is far from certain. Its equally unclear whether the African state can afford to operate Principe de Asturias on more than a token basis. In 1997, Thailand commissioned a small flattop based on Principe de Asturias design but has found it nearly impossible to keep the carrier and her Harriers in front-line service.
In her final years in Spanish service, Principe de Asturias and her planes and copters reportedly cost as much as $100 million a year to operate. Huge and sparsely populated, Angola sits atop vast mineral wealth that accounts for much of the countrys income but is concentrated in the hands of elites.
Angola hasnt indicated that it is trying to also purchase helicopters and Harriers to fly from the flattop.
The carrier is not Angolas only high-profile military acquisition. The developing country is also getting 18 used Su-30 twin-engine fighters from Russia. Previously operated by the Indian air force, the Su-30s were returned to Russia when New Delhi upgraded its air arm. While lacking the latest avionics, the Su-30s are still among the worlds most powerful fighters, roughly equivalent to the U.S. F-15.
As with the Principe de Asturias, its far from certain that Angola can recruit pilots and afford to fly the Su-30s. West and Central African states have a strong tradition of paying mercenaries from Ukraine and other European countries to pilot their warplanes.
Besides being wasteful in a country thats still one of the worlds least developed, Angolan arms acquisitions actually pose a security threat to Angolans. The main mission of the 100,000-strong armed forcesthe army is the largest of the military branchesis to maintain internal security. Angola suffered a decades-long civil war that ended in 2002. Armed groups are still active in the countryside.
But its hard to say how exactly an aircraft carrier helps maintain internal security. If Angola really is buying a flattop, its anyones guess why.
Sounds like something Venezuela or Zimbabwe would do.
I think Venezuela has more admirals than ships
Well, if they do buy it and try to operate it on their own, the comedy sure to ensue might be priceless............
does Angola have the ability to support this ship? dock it? maintain it?
the USS Forrestal just sold for a penny... they could have saved some serious cash
Gee, just get the entire Angola navy on board and then sink them with one torpedo.
Yea, I filled out the paperwork to buy one last week but I couldn’t pass the background check either.
Tiny Mouse Makes a Big Splash
It seems their biggest ship to date is approximately one-half the size of one of the US Navy’s Perry class FFGs. WTF? A carrier needs sea room to operate effectively - form a protective bubble around itself, maneuver to launch/recover aircraft, etc. They are not coastal beasts. Yet the Angolans don’t seem to have anything that could go out “blue water” with it. Let alone any kind of ASW or AAW capable ships that could defend a carrier. In short it would rapidly become a very expensive sitting duck, and then shortly thereafter a nice man-made reef for divers.
African Bling. Of course they’d have to hire tons of Europeans or Ukranians and such to operate it and if things broke. Gas turbine engines I suppose.
It’s so cute!!
These things probably require massive shore support too. Can you imagine how big a job it will be to clean the barnacles off the bottom?
My first thought as well.
I got a Chinese jet at Harbor Freight last week but I can’t figure out how to fly it.
That dashboard has a lot of switches and dials, and the instructions are in Chinese.
The clowns could sell tickets.
The only thing that would be even funnier would be for Nigeria to buy a carrier to protect their oil wealth. They bought a bunch of RV-7s for training airplanes and couldn’t even keep them running as I recall. Nigeria specializes in junk. In Nigeria they have a knack for building brand new stuff, buildings and houses that look ancient and dilapidated when they are finished.
Last week it was announced that Angola was refusing registration of some muhamedan groups and closing illegal mosques. Perhaps they are fearful of ground attacks by irate Muslims and feel the aircraft are safer at sea? Perhaps war with Congo or Zaire?
Very odd indeed.
Angola ....it was reported...has decided to get rid of all its mosques......good reason to beef up the military. If this report is true I’d like to buy some Angolan imports....what do they import?
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