That was a good view of the AEW Kamov.A very neat compact bird.Given that we have developed our own AEW mini-AWACS using an Embraer platform,with a "wafer" styled radar atop the fuselage,it shouldn't be impossible in the evolution of the KA-31 to devise an AESA version of its billboard rotating radar.Austin said that there appeared to be plenty of internal space on the Kamov.This could be used either for more eqpt. or even an additional fuel tank to extend the endurance.
With conformal radars aboard warships aplenty,ASW/AEW multi-role helos with conformal radars used in the fuselage should also come about.The Hawkeye "chapatti" rotating radar is rapidly being replaced by billboard styled radars for medium sized platforms.On larger carriers,Ospreys have potential for AEW versions,but for carriers below 65,000t without cats,AEW helos using either the Kamov or Merlin will stay relevant for a long time.A-2-A buddy refuelling of fighters with AESA radars will expand the envelope.Future naval MIG-29/35s should incorporate AESA radars and TVC too.If we build larger 65t+ carriers,we could operate Super-Sukhois ,FGFAs too from them.These aircraft have radars with a 500km+ range.
Ideally,we should develop along with Russia a STOVL naval aircraft,similar to the JSF,or even a STOVL version of the FGFA.Cats are extremely costly to build and operate,requiring huge power sources.There would be a market for at least 500 of the type .The RN has gone the STOVL way with the JSF,abandoning the conventional version.A 65t carrier will only see the light of day around 2015.That would give us enough time to develop a STOVL strike aircraft.
UCAVs are the way of the future,with the USN already in initial tests.However,they don't come cheap at all and have limited payloads due to their internal weapons bay and stealth features.One would need both UCAVs and manned fighters aboard future carriers.Our classified Aura/whatever could have a naval version too .
One wonders whether a naval MIG-21 would've succeeded.I doubt it as the aircraft's design and characteristics from available material,would require extensive "surgery" to adapt it to carrier ops. In those far away times,the Soviets used to describe the carrier derisively as Marshal Malenkov,pioneer of Soviet rocket forces-a "missile man", did,as the "5th hind leg of a dog"! So carriers were not on the minds of Soviet leaders until a certain Sergei Gorshkov became naval chief and after building up a massive nuclear sub fleet that could take care of US carriers,started building carriers of their own.One of which will in the near future proudly fly the IN's ensign and Indian flag!