Russia’s sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, is currently undergoing preparation for a deployment to the Mediterranean,a high-ranking official of the Russian Navy told TASS.
Presently docked at the Murmansk’s 35th Shipyard, where specialists are preparing the carrier for a long-distance campaign, the Kuznetsov will set sail for the Mediterranean this summer to join and lead the Russian Navy group in the region.
“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.
Upon returning from this deployment, the Russian carrier will undergo a 2-2.5 years period of upgrade and repairs. The ageing Su-33s will be replaced by Mig-29K.
Russian warships already in the region
The Russian Northern Fleet already has its Udaloy-class destroyer ‘Vice-Admiral Kulakov’ sailing in the Mediterranean along the Slava-class guided missile cruiser ‘Varyag’, Russia’s Pacific Fleet Flagship.
The ‘Varyag’ is equipped with the Fort-M air defense system, a naval version of the S-300 antiaircraft missile complex. The ‘Vice-Admiral Kulakov’ is an anti-submarine warfare ship armed with SS-N-14 anti-ship missile and type 53 ASW/ASuW torpedoes.
In 2013, Russia created a Russian Navy permanent grouping in the Mediterranean where more than 10 warships are in the region on a rotation basis.
The Admiral Kuznetsov is described as a 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.