Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

Future of Russia’s troubled aircraft carrier?

Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov  “Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov”

The flagship of the Russian navy, Admiral Kuznetsov has had problems since she was first set sail from dry dock. 

When the Admiral Kuznetsov was first built, Russia had a free spending military budget during the height of the Cold War. However, when the fall of the Berlin Wall came and the Russian military was out of money.

The expensive programs to fund futuristic planes for Admiral Kuznetsov disappeared. 

Kursk Submarine Disaster : The Genesis of Putin’s Post-Soviet Russia.

The Admiral Kuznetsov was always intended to carry vertical takeoff planes. But, the technology for the planes was not and still isn’t ready for Russia. Moreover, America went through many trials and travails getting their Osprey helicopter working. And the British had a tough time getting their Harrier jet perfected. 

The new F-35 is the VSTOL variant of today. We have them on our Helicopter carriers and Britain has them on their 2 new carriers. The HMS Queen Elizabeth II is actually near Korea now.

For instance Russia’s YAK-141 first flight was in 1987. But, then the Yak-141 was cancelled in 1991. Officially titled the Yakovlev 141, or known as the Yak-41, is a Soviet supersonic vertical takeoff/landing fighter aircraft.

Yakovlev Yak-141 at 1992 Farnborough Airshow (2).jpg
Yak-141 VTOL fighter during hover at 1992 Farnborough Airshow.

But, there are so many issues with Admiral Kuznetsov, that at this point her mere existence is not unlike Germany’s Bismarck.

A show of pride for the nation.

Bismarck’s funds would have been better spent by Germany on an aircraft carrier.

In addition, the same lack of funding that caused the Kursk disaster gave birth to the Admiral Kuznetsov situation.  

Future Of Russia’s Submarine Fleet.

Firstly, her spare parts come from Nevskoye Planning in the Ukraine. However, Russia is currently at “war” with Ukraine. Or engaged in smaller hostilities on the border. As a result, these spare parts are not coming quickly.

Russian Aircraft Carrier To Rejoin The Fleet In Late 2023 - Naval News
Picture via vk.com/milinfolive


Secondly, the Russian ground crew on the carrier have not trained for arrested landings. So, the Russians must use the carrier for helicopter landings or vertical airplane takeoffs.

President Dmitry Medvedev inside the hangar of Admiral Kuznetsov, behind is the Kamov Ka-27 helicopter

However, Russia’s Navy’s favorite plane, the Su-33 or the Yak are too heavy for the ski lift takeoff on the Kuznetsov. 

Sukhoi Su-33 aircraft aboard Admiral Kuznetsov during exercises in the Barents Sea in 2008.
The new Russian Fighter Jet.

So the Russians must choose between an abridged mission length, i.e. curbing the fuel load. Or, putting on fewer missiles and guns. So that they can lower the weight for takeoff from the carrier. 

Russian sailors lined up on deck of Admiral Kuznetsov

Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov (right) at anchor in Severomorsk, alongside new Indian Navy aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, 2012.

Arrested Landings

Arrested landings are not an easy thing. The French have trouble with their carriers and send crews onto American carriers to learn how to administer the mechanisms properly.  But, the French nuclear carrier is a formidable ship. However, she relies on the U.S. support system, which is a great benefit to the US. The French operate day and night and are very good carrier aviators.

Carrier landings are not easy. America has been learning for nearly 100 years, see Rebellion’s piece on the USS Langley CV-1. 

Sinking of the Kursk & Russia’s Soul.

Furthermore, the Admiral Kuznetsov has unreliable engines and has to venture with a tugboat accompanying her. An inevitable breakdown and need of a tow back to a Russian port is a foregone conclusion for each mission.

Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov docked in PD-50 (2006)

In conclusion, hopefully the price of oil will continue to rise. Moreover, with nearly 80% of Russia’s military government funding dependent on the price of crude, future development will need higher prices at the pump. Lastly, Vladimir Putin would like a carrier that can rival the United States.

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Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

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