Plans to modernise the Admiral Kuznetsov have been downscaled due severe cuts to the Russian defence budget, according to Russian media reports.
A source told the Interfax news website that the budget will likely be reduced by fifty percent from the proposed $800 million.
“Instead of previously planned approximately 50 billion rubles for the work, it is planned to allocate about half of the previously announced amount” the source said.
The budget cuts will primary affect the modernisation of the carrier, whereas repairs will be carried out in full, according to the source. The remaining funds will be used to upgrade the carrier’s propulsion systems including replacing four out of the Admiral Kuznetsov’s eight turbo-pressurised boilers while overhauling the remaining four.
In November 2016, a MiG-29K crashed in to the sea before trying to land on the carrier, according to Russian officials the crash was a result of technical malfunction but it was later revealed that the jet had run out of fuel waiting to land while the crew was attempting to repair an arresting wire that broke. In early December an Su-33 crashed into the sea after attempting to land on the carrier. According to a Russian report, the jet crashed at its second attempt to land on the aircraft carrier in good weather conditions. Initially it was suspected that the jet missed the wires and failed to go around, falling short of the bow of the warship, but later it was revealed that the arresting cable failed to hold the aircraft, and was damaged in the attempt.
Following the two incidents, the Kuznetsovs air wing was transferred to shore at Khmeimim Air Base near Latakia to continue military operations.
The Admiral Kuznetsov serves as the flagship of the Russian Navy and is their only aircraft carrier. The initial name of the ship was Riga; she was launched as Leonid Brezhnev in 1985.
She was originally commissioned in the Soviet Navy and was intended to be the lead ship of her class but the only other ship of her class, Varyag, was never completed or commissioned by the Soviet, Russian or Ukrainian navy. This second hull was eventually sold to the People’s Republic of China by Ukraine, completed in Dalian and launched as Liaoning.