The Russian navy plans to deploy its single aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, to head the Russian flotilla in the Mediterranean Sea. The Kuznetsov is expected to sail from its current home base in Murmansk, to the Mediterranean in the summer, the TASS news agency reported. The carrier is at berth in Murmansk, where she is refitted for the mission.
The Russian Navy’s permanent presence in the Mediterranean Sea began in 2013 and includes ten or more warships on average, deployed on a rotation basis from the Northern and Black Sea fleets.

According to TASS, the current group on station includes the missile cruiser Varyag, armed with the Fort-M air defense system and the large anti-submarine warfare (ASW) ship Vice-Admiral Kulakov.

Despite plans to modernize the ship, and replace its Su-33 based air wing with modern MiG-29Ks, Kuznetsov remains today as it was when it was commissioned in the early 1980s, 34 years ago. Last August Admiral Kuznetsov completed three months in dry dock at Roslyakovo in Kola Bay. This relatively short maintenance period involved cleaning and painting the vessel’s hull, repair of onboard electrical equipment, and a general service of the ship. Additional work was done when the ship was docked at Murmansk but did not include major refit as previously sought. Kuznetsov is a large ship – 305 meters in length, with maximum displacement of 58,000 tons, supporting an air wing of up to 40 fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

The Kuznetsov was due to enter the dry dock in Sevmash in 2012, for an upgrade that would take five years, in which its 3M45 P-700 Granit (SS-N-19 Shipwreck) anti-ship cruise-missile launchers would be removed, clearing more hangar space for fixed wing aircraft. However, delays in the delivery of the Vikramaditya to India prevented such extended work. The upgrade would include the replacement of electronic systems and air defenses on board, replacing the 3K95 Kinzhal (SA-N-9 Gauntlet) missiles with SA-22 Greyhound (Pantsir S1) missiles. None of these upgrades have materialized to date and, apparently, she will remain in its current form until her retirement.

This is an excerpt of a 880 word article covering future Russian carrier trends, available to our subscribers.

NATO also maintains a strong naval force in the Mediterranean, comprising naval elements of Italy, France and Spain, along with the US 6th Fleet. However, at present, only the French carrier R-91 Charles De Gaulle (CDG) is available to support the Mediterranean, (when sh is not deployed abroad). Since the U.S. decided to shift its focus on the Pacific Ocean there are no aircraft carriers permanently stationed in the Mediterranean Sea. Both French and US carriers are stationed in the Arabian and Indian Ocean, these include the CDG and CVN-75, USS Truman, currently positioned in the Arabian Gulf. Both are tasked with operation Inherent Resolve (the air war against Daesh in Iraq and Syria). At a length of 261 meters the CDG can is a medium size aircraft carrier with a displacement of 42,000 tons, designed to operate 24-40 aircraft. The Truman has a displacement of 100,000 tons; it is 330 m’ long and can operate an air wing comprising up to 90 fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

Two carriers are home based at the atlantic ocean seaport of Norfolk Virginia are the USS Eisenhower (CVN 69) and USS Washington (CVN 73). Two carriers are currently undergoing maintenance at Norfolk – USS Lincoln (CVN 72) and USS Bush (CVN 77). NATO’s availability of aircraft carrier forces is expected to improve with the introduction of two Royal Navy QEII class carriers, along with their air group of 24 F-35B joint strike fighters, which will also augment the Italian Air group on board the Italian Navy Carrier Cavour, currently undergoing modifications to support up to 16 F-35B on board.