Russia to Start Upgrading Aircraft Carrier In September

A source told Tass News Agency that Russia will begin a multi-year upgrade program for Admiral Kuznetsov later this year.

Tass News Agency quoted a source in the defense industry as saying, “In September, Zvezdochka will sign with the fleet a contract for the second stage of the repairing with modernization of the Admiral Kuznetsov.”

Tass stressed it had not received official confirmation of the news. Previous reports have suggested Zvezdochka would begin work sooner than September.

The source noted, “The deal’s cost is agreed now – it is almost 40 billion rubles. The work will begin in that month at the 35th shipyard in Roslyakovo near Murmansk.”

The repair and upgrade work is expected to last up to two and a half years years. Current plans estimate that work will be finished by the fourth quarter of 2020.

A number of different upgrades will be carried out throughout the coming years. Tass’ source said, “The work will also include modernization of the runway complex to guarantee safety of takes off and landing.”

During the aircraft carrier’s recent deployment to Syria, which began last year and finished earlier in 2017, several aircraft crashed after apparent failures with Admiral Kuznetsov‘s onboard equipment. The arrestor cables are reported to have snapped, resulting in costly crashes of an Su-33 and a MiG-29K.

Moreover, the aircraft carrier’s armament will be addressed at Zvezdochka.

“During the repairing and upgrade, the aircraft carrier’s Granit complex will be replaced with the Kalibr-NK complex,” Tass’ source said.

The Kalibr missile complex has generated attention through Russia’s use of the cruise missiles on multiple occasions to target militants fighting the Syrian government. Russia backs Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The aviation wing will reportedly remain the same — a mix of Su-33s and MiG-29K/KUB jets, as well as Ka-27, Ka-31, and Ka-52K helicopters.

Other upgrades will address onboard systems. Back in March, a source told Tass,

“The ship will be equipped with modern systems of electronic warfare, communication, intelligence, navigation, and combat control. Aside from this, new control systems for safe carrier-based aircraft landing will be installed.”

The total program of upgrades seeks to extend Admiral Kuznetsov‘s service life, by at least 10 years if not twice that. Though Russia maintains an interest in developing a new aircraft carrier, the process of constructing a new vessel is not likely to begin for at least another eight years. Actual construction of a new aircraft carrier will last much longer — necessitating the extension of Admiral Kuznetsov‘s service life.

About Derek Bisaccio

Military markets analyst, covering Eurasia, Middle East, and Africa.

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