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Project 1143.5 - Kuznetsov - First Combat Deployment

Admiral Kuznetsov made its first combat deployment in 2016 — some 26 years after it was commissioned. The Syrian experience of Kuznetsov is the first experience of the combat use of domestic aircraft carriers in the history of the fleet.

The Admiral Kuznetsov carrier participated in delivering strikes against militants in Syria from an eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea in October 2016 - January 2017, a military-diplomatic source in Moscow told TASS on 02 July 2016. "The General Staff has prepared a plan for involvement of the deck aircraft in delivering strikes on terrorist groups in the Syrian Arab Republic, where the crews will practice taking off the carrier to deliver strikes on ground targets."

Belching black smoke, the ageing aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov sailed menacingly close to Britain in a provocative maneuver 21 October 2016. The Soviet-era vessel, leading a flotilla of eight naval vessels, was on its way to the eastern Mediterranean to bolster the Syrian bombing campaign. The powerful fleet was ordered to pass through the Channel, which is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, in single file. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: 'They are all in one line now. They have to be to effectively go through the traffic separation scheme, and they are progressing as expected. 'They haven't slowed or sped up. When they are clear of the Dover traffic separation scheme, they will probably break back out in a formation scheme and be on their way. 'We still don't know where that is and how they are going to get there, but everything so far has been exactly how we would have expected.'

It was planned that the “Admiral Kuznetsov” would be part of a permanent task force of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea. As reported by “Interfax”, the long march the only Russian aircraft carrier will last 4-5 months. As part of the wing, “Admiral Kuznetsov” – the latest MiG-29KR and MiG-29KUBR and planes Su-33, previously reported “Interfax”. In addition, for the “Admiral Kuznetsov” was prepared by combat helicopters Ka-52K “Katran” (naval version of the Ka-52 “Alligator”). In previous years, the aircraft carrier several times to perform tasks in the eastern Mediterranean. Operative connection of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea had about 10 ships.

The naval group also includes a nuclear-powered battle cruiser, two anti-submarine warships and four support vessels, probably escorted by submarines. The battle group was expected to join about 10 other Russian vessels already off the Syrian coast, at anchor off the North African coast and taking on fuel.

The Admiral Kuznetsov was escorted by six other vessels. Chief among them is the nuclear-powered battle cruiser - Pyotr Velikiy (Peter the Great) a Kirov-class warship and the largest surface combatant (excluding aircraft carriers) in the world. With it are two anti-submarine destroyers of the Udaloy class - the Severomorsk and the Vice-Admiral Kulakov. There are also four support vessels. The group had two "oilers" (tankers) with it and it was not clear which of the vessels was actually refuelling. The Admiral Kuznetsov was reportedly refuelling at sea off North Africa en route to Syria. Permission had been granted in September for three Russian ships to dock in the port of Ceuta between 28 October and 2 November. It said such stops for Russian naval vessels had taken place for years in Spanish ports.

Problems with the engines accounted for the practice of accompanying Kuznetsov on long range deployments with a tug. The tug in question – the Nikolai Chiker – is the most powerful tug in the world. This same tug played a key role in successfully hauling Kuznetsov’s uncompleted sister ship Varyag from Ukraine to China in 2005, where she has now become the Chinese carrier Liaoning. The fact Kuznetsov is accompanied by a tug on long range deployments has provoked some derision. However it is common practice in any navy to accompany large surface warships with service ships, and accompanying Kuznetsov with a tug ensures in Kuznetsov’s case that the carrier will get to where the Russian naval staff are sending it. The engine problems would not affect Kuznetsov’s Mediterranean deployment when the carrier finally reached its position.

On November 14, 2016 the RF Ministry of Defense reported that during a training flight in the Mediterranean Sea during landing on an aircraft carrier "Admiral Kuznetsov" carrier-based fighter crashed MiG-29K. The pilot ejected, his health was not threatened. The accident occurred due to a technical fault. This was the third accident involving aircraft of the air group aircraft carrier "Admiral of the Soviet Union Fleet Kuznetsov".

On October 18, 2004 in the north-eastern Atlantic, teaching and training aircraft Su-25UTG (hull number "07 Red") made a hard landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier "Admiral Kuznetsov". The plane broke down the right landing gear, after which he was dragged about 90 meters on deck. The pilot was not injured but the aircraft was damaged by the refractory coating deck of the ship, which protects from the hot air jets from the jet engines.

On September 5, 2005 in the North Atlantic Ocean during the training flight deck fighter Su-33 was lost (hull number "82 Red"). When landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier "Admiral Kuznetsov" broke the cable arresting gear (the device reduces the mileage after planting), due to which the aircraft had taken off from the deck. The pilot was not injured. Sunken aircraft was destroyed by depth charges, because it had secret onboard equipment.

Russian Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft-carrying cruiser had begun combat operations in Syria, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said 15 November 2016. "Today, we started a major operation to launch massive strikes on Daesh and al-Nusra Front targets in the Idlib and Homs provinces [in Syria]," Shoigu said at Russian President Vladimir Putin's meeting with the ministry’s leadership and defense enterprises. "The Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrying cruiser began taking part in operations for the first time in the history of the Russian Navy. Our Su-33 aircraft began working from this cruiser today. Before this, we carried out very careful, thorough reconnaissance of all targets," Shoigu said.

Russia’s defense ministry said 05 December 2016 that a Sukhoi jet fell into the sea after a malfunction as it tried to land on the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier following a bombing raid in Syria. It was the second such crash involving Russia’s lone carrier in a month, since it arrived in the eastern Mediterranean to bolster Moscow’s air power in Syria. “After carrying out its military assignment in Syrian airspace, a Su-33 fighter rolled beyond the deck of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier during landing due to breakage of the arresting cable,” said a defense ministry statement quoted by Russian news agencies. The pilot ejected from the plane and reached the ship safely.



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