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Russia’s Problem-Prone Aircraft Carrier Heading to Syria

Sep. 21 2016 — 19:00 — Update: 19:10

Deck of the Admiral Kuznetsov. YouTube

The flagship of Russia’s Northern Fleet, the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, is bound for the eastern Mediterranean. There, it will rendezvous with a flotilla of Russian ships on combat duty off the coast of Syria, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Wednesday.
Shoigu did not specify what Kuznetsov will be doing once it meets up with the fleet off of Syria, saying the decision is aimed at “bolstering the combat capabilities of the group,” which currently consists of six combat vessels and three to four support vessels.
Kuznetsov, a Soviet-built aircraft carrier, will deploy to Syria with a wing of Russia’s naval aviation force. But the ship and its air-wing were not designed for land-strike missions, such as the ones flown by Russian planes currently operating out of a Syrian airbase in the region of Latakia.
The planes that fly from the ship are limited in their overall payload and fuel capacity, because the planes must take off without the assistance of a steam-powered catapult, as is seen on Western aircraft carriers. Instead, a ramp at the end of the Kuznetsov’s deck vaults the planes into the air.
If Kuznetsov and its air wing are called to support Russian air forces in Syria, they will be performing a completely different mission from the one the ships Soviet designers intended. The air wing is intended to defend Russian ships from American aircraft and submarines, while missile tubes hidden in the aircraft carrier’s deck are used to pummel other surface ships from afar.
Russia’s Syria adventure, begun almost a year ago, has been as much a demonstration and live-fire exercise for its military forces as it has been a mission with a concrete political goal. The Defense Ministry has used the opportunity of fighting for Syrian President Bashar Assad to test a variety of weapons systems that have never seen actual combat. Kuznetsov appears to be next in line.
The ship has famously broken down several times during its lifetime, and reportedly always sets to sea with an ocean-going tugboat — just in case.

A Russian tugboat saves the Admiral Kuznetsov Alexandr Shakun

1 Comment on "Russia’s Problem-Prone Aircraft Carrier Heading to Syria"

  1. With the Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and accompanying support ships underway from Murmansk to Mediterranean, the next step in a well prepared plan to increase pressure on US in Syria is set in motion. This is likely a preplanned step to support Assad with increased firepower in order to fulfill a goal. The decision to deploy Kuznetsov is probably part of an overall preplan. The timing of the departure immediately after the Duma election in Russia seems to be part of the plan. If indeed the recent activities, with US accidental bombing of Assad forces near Aleppo and the subsequent Russian/Syrian possible revenge bombing of UN relief convoys ties into the equation, we may be in for an escalation both locally in Syria, and also on the international arena between US and Russia. The next move is clearly on the US side to react to the blatant escalation by Russians, even denying any involvement in the last bombing, despite Kerry’s accusations, and making open statements to support the idea that this may have been done by US bombers or Drones. The scenario, with a spread of false explanations and finger pointing from the Russian and Syrian leaders, is a typical Russian “maskirovka” operation desperately trying to blur the truth and work hard to find a plausible scenario that at least some might not reject.
    It is getting harder by the day for Obama to foresee a peaceful end to his last Presidential term. Maybe it is in Russian interest to once again try to influence the upcoming Presidential election.

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