The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.
As tensions deepens between East and West, Russia moves to beef up its military capabilities in the Mediterranean by sending an aircraft carrier that could help in Moscow’s efforts to combat terrorism in Syria.
The Russian Defense Ministry announced Wednesday that it is sending the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in order to join the Russian naval group operating in the eastern Mediterranean.
Russian officials said the carrier could be used to aid the ongoing anti-terrorist mission in Syria.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has said the naval group in the eastern Mediterranean includes at least six warships and three or four support vessels from all fleets.
“To increase the combat capabilities of the group, [we] plan to include the cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov into its ranks,” Shoigu said as quoted by Interfax.
Admiral Kuznetsov’s mission is expected to last up to five months.
The Chairman of the Defense Committee in the Russian parliament Mr. Vladimir Komoedov told Interfax that the aircraft carrier may join in the fight against terrorism in Syria.
“It will depart on time if the situation requires it and we’ll need to support our guys in Syria. There are no obstacles here,” Komoedov, a former commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, said.
According to Interfax, the vessel, which has recently undergone maintenance, will carry state-of-the-art MIG-29KR and MIG-29KUBR jets, as well as SU-33 fighters. In addition, it’s reported that the onboard squadron will include KA-52K assault helicopters.
“The KA-52 helicopters are already undergoing tests. The pilots report on very positive impressions,” the director of the Russian Helicopters company told Interfax.
The Admiral Kuznetsov is capable of harboring over 50 aircraft. The vessel is also armed with ‘Granit’ anti-ship cruise missiles and as well as ‘Blade’ and ‘Chestnut’ gun systems.
A brand-new aircraft carrier is expected to enter the Russian Navy in 2025, Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov announced in May. Agencies.