MOSCOW, December 25 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian navy has pushed back the intended in-service date for a new deck-landing training installation by almost a year for undisclosed reasons, a building contractor involved in the project said Wednesday.
The facility, known by its Russian acronym NITKA and being built in the Black Sea town of Yeisk, was originally due to enter service this month, the Defense Ministry said as recently as October.
“The work schedule for NITKA has been delayed to November 2014,” said a management source from a contractor company involved in the project. The source did not say why the project had been delayed, but said it was at the Defense Ministry’s initiative and “was not connected to the state of the project. From our side, it was all ready to hand over in December this year.”
Russian navy pilots previously used a similar facility nearby in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula under a 1997 bilateral agreement, but Moscow told Kiev in September that it would stop using that base.
The Russian Defense Ministry had previously said it was willing to upgrade the Ukrainian facility.
A Russian navy Sukhoi Su-25UTG trainer made the first flight from the new Yeisk facility in July to test its ski-jump configuration runway, which simulates the flight deck of Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov.
The navy currently operates Sukhoi Su-33 fighters from the carrier but is in the process of receiving the new Mikoyan MiG-29K, capable of air defense and strike missions.