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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Russia to start building naval pilot training center in 2010

RIA Novosti

06/05/2009 13:26 MOSCOW, May 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russia is planning to start construction of a naval pilot training facility on the Sea of Azov in southern Russia in 2010, the Kommersant business daily reported on Wednesday.

The Russian Navy earlier said the new facility was necessary to ensure consistent training of naval pilots for an air wing based on board the Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia's only operational aircraft carrier, and future aircraft carriers.

At present, Russia uses a naval pilot training center on the Crimean Peninsula in Ukraine as the only training facility for its naval pilots, but Kiev has recently been less willing to allow Russian pilots to train at the facility and, according to some sources, is planning to rent it to China.

The center, known as Nitka, was built in the Soviet era for aircraft pilots to practice their skills in taking off from and landing on an aircraft carrier's deck.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in early 1990s, the facility remained under Ukrainian jurisdiction. The Ukrainian Navy does not have an aircraft carrier.

The Nitka center provides naval aviation training facilities such as a launch pad, an aerofinisher, a trampoline, a catapult launching device, a glide-path localizer, a marker beacon, and an optical landing system.

The new center will be built at an old airfield near the town of Eisk on the Sea of Azov, which is separated from the Black Sea by the Kerch Strait between the Crimean and Taman peninsulas.

According to the head of Russia's naval pilot training, Col. Alexander Mudrenov, the new center will cost some 24 billion rubles ($730 million) and will take two years to complete.

Russia is planning to finish drafting plans for a new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier for its Navy by 2012 and build at least three of the ships for its Northern and Pacific fleets.



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