The crew of Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only aircraft-carrying cruiser, is preparing for a deployment to the shores of Syria. A source in the Defense Ministry told RIA Novosti that the carrier is currently undergoing repairs and will be ready for the long-range operation by the end of September.
"The carrier has arrived at the 35th dockyard to undergo a second stage of upgrades and to restore its technical readiness. All works are expected to be completed by the end of September when the ship will be ready for deployment," the source said.
Earlier in July Admiral Igor Kasatonov, former commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, described the likely composition of a naval taskforce that may be deployed to Syria’s shores.
According to Kasatonov, it will be a carrier battle group, comprised of the carrier ship itself along with several escort ships and a multirole nuclear submarine. During the initial stages of the taskforce’s journey it will also likely be escorted by Il-38 and Tu-142 anti-submarine warfare aircraft.
Furthermore, the Admiral Kuznetsov may also be refitted in order to carry Ka-52K Katran reconnaissance and combat helicopters that were originally designed for operations aboard the French-built Mistral-class amphibious assault ships.
Ka-52K helicopters are equipped with precision-guided air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles, as well as with unguided rockets and an automatic cannon, and can be deployed in combat, target acquisition and designation, maritime patrol and convoy escort missions.
Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, officially designated by the Russian Navy as a heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser, was built at the Black Sea Shipyard in 1985.
The vessel carries a complement of Su-33 air superiority fighters and Ka-27 and Ka-27S anti-submarine warfare helicopters.