The Buzz

Russia's Only Aircraft Carrier Will Soon Be Out of Action for 3 Years

Russia will start modernizing its sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov before July. The ageing warship will undergo a massive refit that will modernize her problematic and unreliable propulsion system along with other upgrades.

"The decision to start Admiral Kuznetsov’s modernization at Zvezdochka in the first six months of 2017 has been made. The project plan specifying the costs and the amount of work to be performed, will be completed within a couple of months," a source told the Moscow-based TASS news.

“All works onboard the ship must be finished by 2020.”

During the modernization process, the ship will have four of its eight boilers replaced while the remaining four will be repaired. The ageing Soviet-era vessel has been plagued with reliability issues.

The rest of the carrier’s systems will also be modernized.

"The ship will be equipped with modern systems of electronic warfare, communication, intelligence, navigation and combat control,” the source told TASS.” Aside from this, new control systems for safe carrier-based aircraft landing will be installed. The composite air wing personnel will remain unchanged.”

Kuznetsov, which has been in service since 1990, is in dire need of modernization. However, with the ship entering drydock for an extended period, Moscow will have no operational aircraft carrier available for the next three years. Ideally, to have a sustained presence at sea, the Kremlin would need three such vessels, however Kuznetsov’s sister ship Varyag was sold incomplete to the Chinese and now serves Beijing as Liaoning. Meanwhile, Russia does not seem to have any real plans to build a follow-on carrier to replace or supplement Kuznetsov.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar.

Image Credit: Creative Commons.