KIEV, September 10 (RIA Novosti) – Kiev confirmed on Tuesday that Russia had provided official notification that it would stop using the only land-based training facility for pilots of carrier-based fixed-wing aircraft, the so-called Nitka Center, located in Crimea.
Russia gave the notification last week during a meeting of a bilateral interstate commission, said Yevhen Perebiynis of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. The news was first announced by a high-ranking source at the Russian Defense Ministry.
In May, Russian Navy Commander Admiral Viktor Chirkov said a new Russian carrier-deck pilot training site near Yeisk, on Russia's Black Sea coast, would be ready for operation by next year.
Russia had occasionally used the Nitka Center under a 1997 bilateral agreement. The Russian Defense Ministry said last year that it was paying about $700,000 annually to rent the site and was willing to upgrade the facility.
In March, Ukrainian First Deputy Defense Minister Oleksandr Oleinik said Ukraine, which does not operate fixed-wing shipborne naval aircraft, was considering leasing out Nikta to other countries.
The Nitka Center was built in the Soviet era for pilots to practice taking off and landing from aircraft carrier decks. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the facility remained under Ukraine’s control.
The center has facilities including a launch pad, a catapult launch device and arrester wires, a glide-path localizer, a marker beacon, and an optical landing system.