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    Russian air carrier to rejoin Navy by end of 2006

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    The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia's only aircraft carrier, will join the Northern Fleet by the end of the year after modernization, the Navy's chief said Wednesday.

    MOSCOW, September 27 (RIA Novosti) - The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia's only aircraft carrier, will join the Northern Fleet by the end of the year after modernization, the Navy's chief said Wednesday.

    The ship, also known as Project 1143.5 heavy aircraft carrier, was commissioned in the Russian Navy in 1991 and became fully operational in 1995. But it was plagued by technical problems, including faulty arrester gear, and was put into dock earlier this year for a technical overhaul.

    "All preparatory work has been completed on the Admiral Kuznetsov and it will leave port for a combat training mission at the beginning of next week," Admiral Vladimir Masorin said after a visit on board the ship.

    The Navy commander also said that several Su-33 Flanker-D fighters assigned to the aircraft carrier would return to the ship after a brief technical overhaul. The vessel is capable of carrying up to 26 fixed-wing fighters and 24 helicopters.

    Russia's military leadership is considering building several modern aircraft carriers after 2015.

    "The Russian Navy will operate several aircraft carriers in future," Masorin said in February, adding that Admiral Kuznetsov would probably remain in service until 2030.

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