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?
What a opportunity to aid the anti-islamics, and all this board has done is insult and denigrate the effort.
Need carrier group to keep it alive....
Kan’t afford it....
Why not buy a battlecruiser? That would be impressive too—I am sure their might be a few for sale someplace.
With a deck this size just think how many people can fish with their cane poles and their coffee cans full of worms.
“Can you imagine how big a job it will be to clean the barnacles off the bottom?”
Especially without a drydock!
We have more admirals than ships too.
Well, if they do buy it...........”....
It will be with our money as a gift from odumbo.
The Royal Navy has more admirals than ships!
Because Angola closed a few mosques they should buy an aircraft carrier? If the trailer park family at your church wins a million dollars in the lottery and tells you they're looking at buying an $800,000 house do you smile and recommend a good landscaper?
The "president" of Angola has been in power since 1979 and was educated in the Soviet Union. Like most of the African dictators he's amassed a large personal fortune in a country that spent most of the last 40 years in civil war. Not the kind of guy you want to lift up as a champion of Western Civilization.
That brings to mind Zambia’s space exploration program in the 1960’s. The training of prospective Zambian astronauts included having them crawl into barrels, which were then rolled down a slope, to simulate weightlessness in space.
wow. I didn’t know that.
I wrote a story about a country that only had admirals once. lol
There was one other leader that banned Islam in his country: Albania's Enver Hoxha, but I seriously doubt anyone here would want to emulate his rule.
The words "amateur" and "aircraft carrier landing" usually don't go together, unless they're attached to "flaming disaster". But it'd be a great reality TV show.
I did not know they had fallen so low. Wow.
Welfare states can’t afford it I guess. Gotta house and feed all those 3rd world immigrants that Labour opened the door for and Tories never closed.
“amateur” and “White House” are two words that have been associated for at least 6 years now.
LOL - yeah, and with some other words that would probably get me banned forever...
South Korea has a bigger navy than the UK, insane.
Well, that explains why Hillary’s pal Ambassador Joe Wilson has business dealings with Angola.
Near as I can tell, that's an exaggeration, though not by much.
First, you have to count submarines as "boats", not ships, which by tradition the Navy does.
Second, you'd have to count in some less than fully active (i.e., reserves or retired) to boost the number of admirals.
Still, in WWII there were 30 ships for every admiral, so that says a lot about how far we've fallen.
No doubt part of the explanation is that should the time come when we must rapidly expand the armed forces, there will be necessary leadership to fill the new slots.
Before their civil war (1975-2002) Angolans exported mainly agricultural products such as bananas, coffee and sisal-hemp (a tough fiber used in ropes, carpets, footwear, etc.).
Today those are relatively minor and Angola's predominant exports (98%) are petroleum products and diamonds.
In the recent past those totaled approx. $55 billion per year compared to $25 billion in imports giving Angola a trade surplus of $30 billion per year.
Today's latest numbers are significantly lower...
As for mosques, Angola's Muslim population is circa 1%.
Most Angolans are Catholics, from their heritage as a Portuguese colony.
Finally, we might note that Angola has been the worlds number one importer of "special purpose ships" such as floating docks, fire-boats and dredges.
This may have something to do with keeping their capital city and major port operating smoothly.
The Duchy of Grand Fenwick wanted to bid but getting ship into the Alps was too difficult.
A little exaggeration but not much. There were 234 commissioned ships (including submarines) in the Navy as per the US Naval Register, current as of 31 December 2016 . There are 223 active duty Admirals (O7-O10) now. That includes 162 Admirals assigned to the Navy plus 61 more Admirals assigned to joint billets as of 2016. This number comes from the 2016 report at the link below and does not include reserve component Admirals. The number of active duty Admirals has been reduced significantly since 2012 so I am not certain that it was an exaggeration in the past.
Of those, as you posted, just 234 are "commissioned", the rest non-commissioned (105), ready-reserve (51) and other support ships (50).
Non-commissioned ships include such as USNS Spearhead class, and Mercy class hospital ships:
Quite possibly, but for whom, I wonder?
I would go with the 234 commissioned number. PE Trump said he wants a 350 ship Navy. I am guessing that he does not intend to get there by scrapping 90 ships.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.