Saturday, November 12, 2016

Syria: Russian carrier to begin ops

(Eastern Med) The deployment of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov to the Eastern Mediterranean, which started mid-October near Severomorsk, is not a surprise. During winter, the Kuznetsov is usually deployed somewhere southward. She made her first Mediterranean deployment between 23 December 1995 and 22 March 1996. Because of extensive service work, absent funding and the explosion and sinking of the nuclear-powered submarine Kursk, the second Mediterranean deployment was more than ten years later, between 5 December 2007 and 3 February 2008. Further deployments to the Mediterranean were between 5 December 2008 and 2 March 2009, 6 December 2011 and 17 February 2012, 17 December 2013 and 17 May 2014. It seems that the Russian Navy abstained of another deployment at the end of 2015 because the 100th Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment with its MiG-29KR light fighters and MiG-29KUBR combat-capable trainers was not adequate trained for air operations from the carrier.

According to the Russian classification the Admiral Kuznetsov is designated as a heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser instead of an aircraft carrier, this is due to the 1936 Montreaux Convention, passage of “aircraft carriers” through the Turkish Straits is prohibited. In contrast to U.S. carriers, the Admiral Kuznetsov was designed specifically to sail alone and carries offensive firepower (especially worthy of mention are the 12 long-range surface-to-surface anti-ship Granit cruise missiles). Consequently, the Kuznetsov’s carrier battle group is rather small and comprises a Kirov class nuclear battlecruiser (Pyotr Velikiy), two Udaloy I class anti-submarine destroyers (Severomorsk and Vice-Admiral Kulakov), three replenishment oilers and two rescue tugs. The battle group has been joined by the Admiral Grigorovich, the flagship of its class, an additional replenishment oiler and two rescue tugs coming from the Black Sea on November 5. The Admiral Grigorovich, which was commissioned only in March 2016, is a frigate armed with Kalibr-NK missiles.

 Admiral Kuznetsov

Pyotr Velikiy
Admiral Grigorovich

Aboard the Kuznetsov, there are approximately ten Su-33 as well as at least four MiG-29KR and MiG-29KUBR. Additional to the fighter jets there are approximately four KA-27PL/PS, two KA-29TB, two KA-31 and one KA-52K helicopters on board.



Arriving in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Kuznetsov battle group will probably operate east of Cyprus near the Syrian coast till January, 2017. According of the plans of the Russian general staff, Syria and in trainings with other Russian-friendly states, most likely with the Egyptian Navy.