It is understood that one of the reasons the Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsoz is returning home from Syria is the vessels inability to safely operate aircraft.

It has been reported that Russia is to withdraw forces from Syria, with its aircraft carrier the first to leave says the chief of the Russian armed forces.

Gen Valery Gerasimov said:

“The Russian defence ministry is beginning to reduce its armed forces deployment in Syria.”

In November 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.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Isn’t it due to the end of her deployment cycle and the ceasefire in Syria? After all the last time a cease fire was implemented in Syria the Russians withdrew forces. On saying that, Kuznetsov’s had a nightmare with her arrestor cables, to be expected when she’s never carried out high tempo carrier ops before. if that was the primary issue though surely she would have withdrawn a bit earlier.

    • True, but if as they report says, her air-wing had moved to a land base, it would suggest the carrier wasn’t doing what it had been sent their to do. It could be argued it was being sent home because, as the headline says, its inability to operate jets safely.

      Also, I doesn’t sound very practical to send a carrier and its escorts home within days of a cease-fire. If it all falls through, which knowing the area is a sad possibility, you might end up turning it around mid way or just straight up sending it out again.

      • It was reported that she was operating her jets from land before the second crash. Leads me to believe they were using their airfield in Latakia as a ‘spare deck’.

        Kuznetsov’s deployment time is finite and unlike other navies (RN, US) the Russians can’r have an SMP in a friendly country to solve and issues (Syria doesn’t have the resources, yet.) Sending her home is a big gesture, while maintaining the real striking power in Latakia.

        If all her aircraft were operating safely from Latakia, why bring her home solely due to mechanical issues?

        • You might be right, I’m purely going on what the article states above.

          Sending her home is a big gesture, just like sending her there was as well ( I appreciate she had a real impact with her aircraft, but couldn’t that have been achieved the same with land based fighters?) . Especially when considering that with two serious accidents, she perhaps wasn’t ready for the tempo of operations she carried out.

          Why pay the expense of keeping her out there, if her use has been replaced by an air base. Maybe the US can afford to have carriers at sea constantly, but Russia cant. Who knows, without out a cease fire she might have stayed on station to save face, but the cease fire must have presented an attractive opportunity to send her home because she had become just an expensive and faulty cruiser.

          • They’ve certainly learned some expensive lessons and we might see them incorporated into her refit. At least she didn’t go on fire and no one was lost.

  2. Putin wished to demonstrate he can ‘project power’ – hence the run up the Channel en route. She has served her purpose. Now for the tricky steam home.

  3. Kuznetsoz is nothing but a cargo ship lugging the obsolete fighters to land bases in Syria. 420 sorties in 2 months – A USN Carrier can surge that number of sorties in 2 days.

  4. Question for the experts.
    India’s carrier vikramaditya is ex-russian and refitted there . India also operates Mig29 /SU31 fixed wing

    How are they getting on after 18 -20 months? Anyone know?

  5. It doesn’t sound a lot. However Mark Urban tweeted today that the USN/USMC have only 38% availability on their aircraft, which is clearly terrible if true.

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