Admiral Kuznetsov to see combat for the first time in her life
Although she has had a less than stellar mechanical availability, the heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser (TAVKR) Kuznetsov, laid down in 1982, will be headed to war for the first time in her confusing life.
Commissioned at the tail end of the Cold War in 1990 (though not operational until at least 1995), Kuznetsov has always been the shiny “fleet-in-being” for the Russian Navy. Renamed no less than four times, the 61,000-ton very ship has a very potent weapons load to balance the fact that her airwing has always been lackluster, especially for a ship her size.
Semi-active for the past 26 years, she has only made five short summer deployments to the Mediterranean from her Northern base–typically escorted by an ocean going tug for those not so capable moments.
However, word has come that in October she will depart the great North once more for the Med, a departure from her typical summer-only cruises which could lead her to winter over in the Black Sea which is sure to be a hit with the Ukraine and Turkey.
In another radical move, she will engage in combat operations off Syria to support the Assad regime, which will be rough as she is much too large to dock at the
Soviet Russian base at Tartus.
Her airwing will include about 15 short-legged Su-33 and MiG-29K/KUB fighters and “more than 10” Ka-52K Katran and Ka-27/31 Helix ASW/AEW helicopters.
The use of the Ka-52, a particularity wicked-looking version of the “Hokum” gunship which only started delivery to the Russians in 2012 (and the navalised “K” variant last year), mirrors the use of AH-64 Apaches by the Brits from ships off Libya a few years back.
Also, it may be an audition to possible weapons deals in the area, as Egypt is buying a crapload of Ka-52s for their French-made Mistral LPDs.