Russia’s heavy aircraft carrier – its only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, could be sent to the Mediterranean this summer, a high-ranking official at the Russian Navy told TASS over the weekend.
“This summer, we plan the Admiral Kuznetsov’s campaign in the Mediterranean Sea, where it will lead the Navy group in that region,” the source said.
The Kuznetsov class ships should be able to carry up to 33 fixed-wing aircraft and 12 helicopters. It has D/E band air and surface target acquisition radar (passive electronically scanned array), F band surface search radar, G/H band flight control radar, I band navigation radar, and four K band fire-control radars for the Kashtan CIWS.
The ship has hull-mounted medium- and low-frequency search and attack sonar.
At the moment, the aircraft carrier is at a shipyard in Murmansk, where specialists prepare it for the long-distance campaign. But the source did not specify what tasks the flagship of the Russian Navy will have in the Mediterranean.
It’s probably good to have one of those around, especially when the US Sixth Fleet is floating nearby.
The formation of the Russian Navy’s permanent grouping in the Mediterranean began in 2013. As a rule, more than ten warships are in that region on a rotation basis.
The permanent naval grouping in the Mediterranean now includes the missile cruiser Varyag armed with the Fort-M air defense system (the naval version of the S-300 antiaircraft missile system) and the large antisubmarine warfare ship Vice-Admiral Kulakov.
While designated as an aircraft carrier by the US, the design of the Kuznetsov class vessels implies a mission different from that of American carriers. The term used by her builders to describe the Russian ships is tyazholiy avianesushchiy kreyser (TAKR or TAVKR) – “heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser” – intended to support and defend strategic missile-carrying submarines, surface ships, and maritime missile-carrying aircraft of the Russian fleet.
So you place just one of them near the Syrian coast and do whatever you want, really.