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A Russian aircraft carrier battle group has passed through through the English Channel.

The Royal Navy is escorting the eight Russian warships sailing to join the Russian campaign in Syria.

It was reported that the Kremlin will use the voyage as an opportunity for a show of strength as it passes Britain, with the vessel expected to launch aircraft off the British and French coasts.

A Royal Navy spokesperson:

“UK and NATO assets routinely monitor warships from other nations when they enter our area of interest and this will be no different.”

The carrier Admiral Kuznetsov’s main fixed-wing aircraft is the multi-role Sukhoi Su-33. The carrier also carries the Kamov Ka-27 and Kamov Ka-27S helicopters for anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, and small transport.

Claims that the Admiral Kuznetsov will be deployed to Syria to fight Islamic State had been met with scepticism.

According to TASS, a military-diplomatic source in Moscow said on Saturday:

“The General Staff has prepared a plan for involvement of the deck aircraft in delivering strikes on terrorist groups in the Syrian Arab Republic, where the crews will practice taking off the carrier to deliver strikes on ground targets.

The Admiral Kuznetsov, will be close to the Syrian shore so that the deck aircraft have enough fuel to complete the military tasks and return back.”

Crown Copyright 2016.
Crown Copyright 2016.

According to War is Boring here:

“Admiral Kuznetsov has never seen combat, nor would she be of much practical military use. The 55,000-ton carrier has a bow ramp, not steam catapults, requiring her aircraft to shed weight before taking off. This means her planes will go into combat with less fuel or bombs than the ground-based fighters Russia has already deployed to Syria.”

The author adds:

During the voyage the Admiral Kuznetsov reportedly “will have about 15 fighters Su-33 and MiG-29K/KUB and more than ten helicopters Ka-52K, Ka-27 and Ka-31.”

While designated an aircraft carrier by the West, the design of Admiral Kuznetsov implies a mission different from that of either the United States Navy carriers or those of the Royal Navy.

The term used by her builders to describe the Russian ship is “heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser”.

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