Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

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Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby MikeJames » 26 Oct 2016 11:25

Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Tim Ripley, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly
17 October 2016

The Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, photographed at Severomorsk on 12 October shortly prior to embarking on a voyage to the Mediterranean to support Russian pro-government operations in Syria. Source: TASS
Russia's only aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov , and a supporting naval task group has set sail for the Mediterranean, state-owned news agency TASS has reported.

"The group consists of the aircraft-carrying heavy cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov , the battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy , large anti-submarine ships Severomorsk and Vice Admiral Kulakov and support vessels," according to a statement from the Russian Northern Fleet on 15 October, reported by TASS later that day.

The mission of the deployment is "to ensure naval presence in the important areas of the World Ocean", said the Northern Fleet statement. "Special focus will be made on safeguarding security of maritime traffic and other types of maritime economic activity of Russia and also on responding to the new kinds of modern threats such as piracy and international terrorism."

NATO has been developing plans to monitor the progress of Admiral Kuznetsov and its battlegroup as they transit through the North Atlantic and into the Mediterranean. Many of the alliance's naval and air assets participating in Exercise 'Joint Warrior' off the west coast of Scotland are expected to be drawn upon for the surveillance operation, including Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora and US Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft temporarily deployed to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

UK assets on call for the surveillance operation include a Type 23 frigate and a Type 45 destroyer to shadow the Russian ships, a senior UK military official has told IHS Jane's . Royal Air Force aircraft are also being prepared for the operation. These include a Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint electronic eavesdropping aircraft, a Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules transport being used in the surface surveillance role and Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft to shadow any Sukhoi Su-33 or Mikoyan MiG-29K naval strike fighters launched from the Russian carriers.

A UK Royal Navy spokesperson told IHS Jane's on 15 October, "UK and NATO assets routinely monitor warships from other nations when they enter our area of interest and this will be no different."

ENDS

The Type 45 shadowing them is apparently HMS Duncan.

The carrier support group is also accompanied by a ocean going salvage tug, a sad indictment of the maintenance and reliability of Kuznetsov.

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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby RussF172 » 26 Oct 2016 12:46

Glad you put on the bottom about the tug going with them. I wondered how many tugs would be going with the group to tow them home when done.
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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby MikeJames » 26 Oct 2016 15:41

Kuznetsov never travels far without a salvage tug. It's been needed more than enough times that including one in the deployment is simply prudent.
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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby glenhowells » 27 Oct 2016 14:54

If the Russians are sending there carrier to an area of hostile operations, it's like going to a cricket match with a broken bat and think you are going to win. For Russia's sake hope they make it back home under there own steam. What an embarrassment it would be if they had to be towed home. In my time a priority 1 urdef(urgent defect) a ship stopper you would not go to sea till that defect was rectified. I don't think the Russians have a system like that or similar. I seen the footage of them sailing through the English channel no need to shadow them you could watch them from shore just follow the smoke screen they were making.

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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby MikeJames » 27 Oct 2016 21:46

The Ukranian-built gas turbines have always been notoriously smokey, I've seen the same on Indian ships with Ukranian turbines.

Given all that's happened between Russia and Ukraine, I doubt the manufacturers are offering too much after sales service to the Russian Navy so thats probably not helping either the emission issues or the overall reliability of the power plant.

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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby rritchie71 » 27 Oct 2016 23:22

Interesting video, although they get a quick video of Kuznetsov mixed up with the Kiev purchased by India, still the point is, smoke or not, if they can keep it running, then it is actually a functional carrier.

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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby MikeJames » 28 Oct 2016 13:00

Yes it is functional, but by comparison with a US carrier, it is 60% of the tonnage and operates 50% of the air group at 25% of the sortie rate.

All outside observers have noted that the Russians are very light on by comparison with western navies in sortie generation rates.

The best comparison is probably with the French Carrier Charles De Gaulle.

De Gaulle is some 20,000 tonnes lighter (42,000 vs 61,000 tonnes) but operates the same sized air group, around 40 aircraft, though Kuznetsov operates significantly less fixed wing aircraft.

Kuznetsov operates 12 x Su-33, 4 x Su-25 trainers, 4 x Ka-27 utility helos, 18 × Kamov Ka-27PL ASW Helos and 2 × Kamov Ka-27PS SAR helos
De Gaulle operates 30 x Rafale M, 2 x E3C Hawkeyes, 3 x SA365 Dauphin SAR helos, 3 x EC725 Caracal utility helos and 2 x AS532 Cougar Combat Search and Rescue helos

Conducting comparable flight operations, De Gauille achieves approximately 50% more sorties per aircraft per 24 hour operational period than Kuznetsov and the Russians have shown a reluctance to undertake extensive night and foul weather operations. De Gaulle runs a reduced operational tempo by comparison with the US Navy, so Kuznetsov comes off as being significantly less operationally capable.

It should be noted that Kuznetsov's sister ship, the PLAN carrier Liaoning has a complement of 24 x Shenyang J-15 fighters, 6 x Changhe Z-18 helos, 4 x Ka-31 helos and 2 x Harbin Z-9 helos and when it goes to sea, operates an even lower operational tempo than Kuznetsov.

What can be drawn from this is that both China and Russia operate their carriers far less often than western navies and when they do, the lack of operational experience manifests itself in much lower sortie rates than western navies, plus a reluctance to operate in less favourable conditions. Part of this can be attributed to the lack of international experience they have in sharing experiences with more experienced western navies. For example the French and US Navies regularly cross-deck aircraft and personnel to gather additional operational experience.

A navy doing things in isolation tends to miss learning experiences. An ideal example of this is the RN and US Navy's in WW2. Different operational concepts and experiences saw the Royal Navy having a very much slower op tempo than the US Navy. For example when Saratoga operated with Illustrious in joint operations, it took Illustrious 1 hour and 50 minutes to get it's entire air group of 49 aircraft launched and formed up, compared with 25 minutes from the 72 plane air group on Saratoga. This was because there had been little exposure on the part of the RN to the intensive long-range, offensive air combat required in the Pacific.

It took a lot of training but the RN eventually got a lot better, in part because of continued exposure to the US Navy's experience. By the end of the war the US Fifth Fleet the RN's British Pacific Fleet was accepted into the larger Fifth Fleet Fast Carrier strike force as an integrated member, signifying the vast strides made by the RN.

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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby littoralcombat » 28 Oct 2016 23:59

All that flight-deck acreage..............and five aircraft :tdown:
Imagine the job the fixed wing pilots have when landing through the 'smoke screen' as she steams into the wind?
When she is at her homeport, she constitutes an overly expensive parade ground, I will watch this deployment with interest.
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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby rritchie71 » 29 Oct 2016 01:54

She is in desperate need of a major overhaul and is suppose to be getting a massive refit after this deployment, which will extend her life by 25 years (she is 25 years old already). The smoke is probably a good indication of her true material condition, ref the video of her below (posted in 2014, but the paint job means it was taken before then).

She can carry far more aircraft and operate them, ref pic below of hanger space and flight deck capability, though Mike is right, not as efficient as a U.S. carrier.

Just like the RAN tying up ships alongside because we don't have enough crews. Russia with years of under investment keeping the ship maintained, let alone being operational, no longer has the fighters or trained pilots to deploy a full carrier air-wing.

Still it would make a great model, minus the smoke..... :)


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Hanger space

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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby rritchie71 » 29 Oct 2016 12:38

:lol:
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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby MikeJames » 29 Oct 2016 13:04

Some great imagery of Kuznetsov and her accompanying Kirov and Udaloy class escorts passing Dover.

Kuznetsov is accompanied by Piotr Velikiy, Vice Admiral Kulakov and Severomorsk

https://youtu.be/vnPDhnJy2JY

HMS Duncan shadowed them down through the narrowest part of the English Channel, the Straits of Dover.

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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby glenhowells » 29 Oct 2016 13:26

Nice pic of Kuznetsov's engine room Rob ha ha. To correct you Mike she is a steam ship not a gas boat. For a ship that was built mid to late 80's you would think that other propulsion options should of been considered. Steam plant fuel guzzlers would have to be the last choice in my view. The smoke emissions make more sense now as an ex steam sailor she may have problems with her forced draft blowers not operating at 100% power availability. To much fuel for air being supplied to the boilers. The other problem the air flaps on the boiler front may be restricted with a dirty burn it's a good chance. I may be completely wrong i don't know how the Russians operate.

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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby MikeJames » 29 Oct 2016 14:12

Actually Glen, Kuznetsov is COSAG. COmbined Steam And Gas.

She uses the steam for sustained cruise and couples in the gas turbines for higher speeds when needed such as during flight ops.

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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby glenhowells » 29 Oct 2016 15:16

Thanks Mike i did not know that. I was half right then. I have not had any sea time on gas ships. Some alongside maintenance on FFG turbines thats it.

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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby littoralcombat » 29 Oct 2016 15:34

Love the picture Rob :D
'Janes' and ' Combat Fleets of the World' both state that she is purely Steam Turbine propulsion x4 (×8 boilers), but a few web pages suggest the Russkies are considering changing out to Gas Turbines during her upcoming refit.
Modern Steam Plants are still very much in use, especially in larger Merchantmen like the big crude carriers.
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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby rritchie71 » 29 Oct 2016 21:07

I found a couple of others, in her glory days early in her career, and how she has spent most of her life when Russia was cash strapped and could not afford to maintain or run her.

From what I have read also (Russian sites, Janes and U.S. sites) she is still completely steam. Her refit next year, it is rumored that she will be converted to either gas or nuclear and will essentially be used as an technology test platform for the next generation carrier, although she will still be operational.

Also, the reason they are looking at a new propulsion system, vs repairing the current plant to a good material state. Is that when on trials and early in her life, her stream plant could not maintain full power for long periods of time, and she had to reduce speed for sustained flying ops, which meant the fighters had to carry less weapons or less fuel to take off.

It probably explains a lot about why she is what she is now.
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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby MikeJames » 30 Oct 2016 20:24

Her deployment to Syria is basically a publicity stunt, the Russian's have an air base in Syria that operates significantly more aircraft at a higher op tempo than Kuznetsov is capable of.

At best Kuznetsov is probably operating with 10-12 x Su-33. if that many, probably less.

Putin is milking her transit for all it's worth, most of the great unwashed hear the media say Russian fleet led by the 'supercarrier' Kuznetsov and think of something akin to a US CVN battlegroup.

The entire Kuznetsov group comprises:
Kuznetsov with some 40 aircraft, mostly rotary wing
A Kirov class CGN
2 x Udaloy DDG
2 x Frigates, possibly Steruguichy or Nuastrashimi class.
1 x Sierra class SSN.

By comparison, a US carrier battlegroup heading somewhere hostile looks something like this.

Nimitz class CVN with an air group of some 80-90 aircraft, predominantly Hornets, Super Hornets and Growlers, plus E2C AWACS plus helos.
2 x Ticonderoga class CG
3-4 x Arleigh Burke class DD
2 x Los Angeles, Sea Wolf or Virgina class SSN
In addition, the CVBG usually integrates allied vessels, in the Med that may include French, British, Italian, Spanish or Canadian frigates and destroyers.

The two don't really compare in capabilities, but the man in the street thinks Putin's sending the Russian version of the Fifth Fleet and thinks it's huge, when in fact the support vessels (replenishment, cargo and salvage) required almost outnumber the warships, especially as the support available from countries surrounding the Med is almost nil.

It should be noted that Kuznetsov cannot enter the Black Sea to access the Russian ports in the Crimea due to the Montrose Convention that prevents carriers entering (something the Russians relied on to keep the US carriers at bay).

That leaves them with access to the ports in Syria and maybe Egypt and Algeria. Which means they have to ship in every drop of oil and turbine fuel for the task group, severely limiting their capabilities.

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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby MikeJames » 08 Nov 2016 08:10

The Syria-bound Kuznetsov, denied the rights to refuel in ports across the Med, was forced to replenish at sea.

So what, I hear you ask? Kuznetsov didn't conduct an underway Replenishment At Sea as western navies understand it, instead she basically drifted in international waters west of Gibraltar while a tanker floated refueling lines from stern to stern to allow fuel to be transferred.

This is an incredibly inefficient method, the Kuznetsov was a sitting duck for hours while fueling, and points to just how out of practice the Russian Fleet is for capabilities that western navies (and non-Western such as the the Chinese and Indian navies) take for granted.

Incredibly, the process was caught on commercial satellite.
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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby BsHvyCgn9 » 08 Nov 2016 19:00

LMAO....for a moment when I saw the picture I thought it had broken down again..... :yes: :yes:

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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby MikeJames » 16 Nov 2016 07:47

Not the most auspicious of deployments.

Russian jet crashes after taking off from carrier

By JACQUELINE KLIMAS (@JACQKLIMAS) • 11/14/16 12:36 PM

A Russian MiG-29 jet has crashed into the sea after taking off from the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov off the coast of Syria, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense.

The Russians blamed technical faults for the crash, the state-run Sputnik News reported. The pilot ejected and is not in danger.

The carrier headed to the Mediterranean Sea last month to begin launching airstrikes in Syria. The ship is prone to frequent breakdowns and analysts say it often deploys with a tugboat in case it needs to be brought to shore for maintenance.

Among the numerous previous incidents reported on the ship, an Su-33 fell into the water upon landing in 2005.
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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby rritchie71 » 17 Nov 2016 01:38

It is interesting that as soon as something embarrassing happens, the west is all over it and reports it everywhere. The U.S Navy factors in several fatalities and loss of several aircraft a year per carrier, and it happens unfortunately, but that often doesn't make the news and people shrug their shoulders (oh and that doesn't include the Marines flying off the Wasp class).

It's like the British press beating up on Kuznetsov's unreliability, it is 25 years old and poorly maintained, yet look at the Type 45's, brand new and cannot sail around there country without breaking down, at times all 6 of them have been unable to put to sea because of engine failures, meaning they Type 23 was the front line warship for the RN, that's rather concerning.

and lets not even talk about the Collins class..... ;)

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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby MichaelB » 17 Nov 2016 10:11

Daring has just started a 9 month deployment in the Middle East replacing Defender which has just completed her 9 months there. Apparently she has already clocked up 200,000 miles of sailing.

Daring also came to Australia in 2013 as part of a 9 month around the world deployment.

Not the prettiest of RN ships but a nice looking hull and quite impressive if you get onto her.
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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby BsHvyCgn9 » 17 Nov 2016 20:00

I think we need to remember we only ever see that bad press! We never hear about how our Collins class boats can give our yank friends heartattacks...The only time you see good press about navies is if they do a big drug bust or humanitarian relief.

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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby rritchie71 » 18 Nov 2016 00:44

Very true Bruce. The point is, if you step back and look the Navies, we are bagging a possible opponent, for the same things that have happened, or is happening in our own fleets, i.e. as you point out the collins are great when they work, but we brought in specialists from the outside to look at how we could get them working for a reason.

I love Toburk, and intend to build her, but she got the name "To-broken" for a reason.

In the regards to the Type 45's, it's not the deployment, MoD says all 6 of the class will finely be "working reliably" by 2020, the first was commissioned in 2009.

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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby RussF172 » 06 Dec 2016 10:12

Just saw on the news that the Russians lost another aircraft off KUZNETSOV off the coast of Syria when an arrestor cable snapped on landing. The pilot ejected safely and was recovered by helo. This one was an SU-33 Flanker D model. If they keep loosing them like this they go home with an empty nest. This is the second one in the past month.
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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby MikeJames » 06 Dec 2016 12:35

Russia’s Carrier Operations Start with Mishaps

by Vladimir Karnozov - December 5, 2016, 7:48 AM

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This infrared image of the Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov was obtained by the Raptor sensor pod carried by a UK Royal Air Force Tornado. (Photo: MoD Crown Copyright 2016)

After a few cruise missile launches and bombing raids on targets on the Syrian rebel-held province of Idlib in mid-November, the Russian navy task force in the northeastern Mediterranean remains largely inactive, contrary to expectations. Just before the strikes, the task force suffered the embarrassing loss of a MiG-29K on November 13. Then on December 3 one of its Su-33s overshot the carrier and crashed into the sea.

The pilots of both aircraft ejected and were subsequently rescued, but both aircraft sank to the bottom of the sea. These are painful losses for the Russian navy, especially the MiG-29K single-seater multirole fighter, only 20 of which were procured, along with four MiG-29KUB two-seat operational trainers, with deliveries in 2013-2015.

The MiG accident was initially attributed to unspecified technical malfunctions. But it emerged later*that the MiG-29K was lost after it exhausted all its fuel while awaiting clearance to land on the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. The permission was never issued because the carrier’s crew had not managed to repair the Svetlana-2M arresting equipment in time, after one of its four wires broke. The MiG could have been saved, if the carrier's commander had instructed the pilot to divert to an airbase in Syria or Cyprus. But he hesitated to approve such an alternative, in the hope that the ship's arrestor gear would be repaired quickly.

The Su-33 loss followed the failure of an arrestor wire on landing.

The day after the MiG-29K crash, the task force did dispatch several aircraft to drop bombs on targets in rebel-held areas. Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu said on November 15 that for the first time in the history of the Russian navy, its fleet air arm was involved in striking real targets. “Beforehand, we carried out careful, thorough assessment of targets of all kinds. Using the information gathered, we marked targets of major concern, such as ammunition depots, concentrations and, most of all, training centers operated by unlawful armed groups or, to be precise, terrorists.”

Remarkably, the MiG-29K/KUBs, better suited for bombing missions, are yet to be used in anger. Instead, the navy has relied on Sukhoi Su-33s also aboard the Kuznetsov. These were developed as interceptors and, while having an infrared search and track system (IRST) and laser rangefinder/target designator, do not carry precision guided air-ground munitions. On strike missions the aircraft can carry up to eight 500-kg bombs or RBK-500 cluster bombs or twenty-eight 250-kg bombs attached to single- or multiple-beam racks.

Naval Su-33s struck the rebels with free-fall bombs using SVP-24-33 kit installed on the aircraft shortly before the carrier departed her home base, Severomorsk, for the Mediterranean. This subsystem is a derivative of the SVP-24 “specialized calculating subsystem” developed by the Gefest company for the Su-24M2 frontal bomber, the primary Russian type employed in Syria. It does trajectory calculations for cueing the pilot in using free-fall bombs. The Russian Air and Space Force (VKS) finds its accuracy adequate for the theater. Higher computing power and use of more advanced algorithmsimproves*by up to five-fold the accuracy of Su-33 strikes using unguided weapons compared to the factory standard.

Among the other recent modifications to the Su-33s are installation of modern EW equipment*and incorporation of a navigation and aiming system employing Glonass/GPS satellite receivers. In addition, the aircraft were refurbished with the more robust AL31FM1 engines with a longer life and maximum thrust boosted to 13,500*kgf (about 30,000 pounds). A dozen of these improved Su-33s remain combat worthy at the moment, according to unofficial estimates.

Recent reports state that a number of the MiGs and Sukhois that came with the carrier are now operating from the Hmeymim airbase in Latakia, along with Su-24M2s, Su-30SMs, Su-34s and Su-35Ss already based there. However, on December 4, a Russian TV report from Kuznetsov showed a MiG-29K loaded with KAB-500KR electro-optically guided bombs being prepared for takeoff.
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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby cootafleet » 24 Dec 2016 15:37

ANYTHING mechanical,electrical or human can break anytime.
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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby MikeJames » 24 Dec 2016 21:33

Yes, which is why the Kuznetsov's air wing has moved ashore.

With two arrestor wires reportedly snapping and no spares apparently carried, the Navy decided to move the ships air wing ashore to continue strikes at targets within Syria.

Apparently Kuznetsov spends much of her day swinging around her hook offshore.
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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby cootafleet » 24 Dec 2016 23:21

Her hook will probably break.
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Re: Russian carrier sails for the Mediterranean

Postby MikeJames » 19 Jan 2017 18:55

Latest news suggests the Kuznetsov is heading home. The Russians claim that during her time in the Med her air group conducted a total of 400 sorties, including 117 night missions and destroyed 1252 ground targets.

It doesn't specify if these missions were all from Kuznetsov (unlikely) or include the majority of strikes whicch were launched from the Russian's primary airbase in Syria, to which the fixed wing aircraft deployed in late December.

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