Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, will be refitted to prolong the warship’s operational life.
The work to modernise the veteran aircraft carrier will cost as much as 62 billion rubles (US$1 billion) and, at peak times, shall see around 1,000 workers and technicians working on the project.
The ship will be docked at the 35th Ship Repair Plant at Murmansk, with the modernisation expected to take until the end of 2020 to be completed. Of the highest importance during the refit will be to completely change and modernise the old ship’s power plant that was originally constructed in Ukraine where from, due to political considerations, spare parts cannot easily be obtained.
Another area receiving attention will be the carrier’s electronic systems, with the current first-generation phased array Mars-Passat radar being replaced by the modern Almaz-Antei Poliment-Redut radar system.
The as yet unnamed vessel was built at Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Corporation and sailed on 13 May. The vessel is the first aircraft carrier to be designed and built in China, but shares most of its basic design with the Liaoning, which started out as the Russian Varyag.
The carrier has been equipped to operate in the STOBAR configuration (short take off but arrested recovery) together with a ski jump at the bow for the Chinese-built version of the Russian Flanker J-15 aircraft. On the carrier’s island is an enhanced Type 346 phased array radar set.
NATO’s new Atlantic Command Headquarters will be based at Norfolk in Virginia and will bolster the forces in the Atlantic to reinforce the lines of communication between Europe and North America.
“The return to great power competition and a resurgent Russia demands that Nato refocus on the Atlantic to ensure dedicated reinforcement of the continent and demonstrate a capable and credible deterrence effect,” said Johnny Michael, a Pentagon spokesman. He added that the force “will be the linchpin of trans- Atlantic security.”
At the same time, the US Navy is re-establishing its 2nd Fleet command, which was eliminated in 2011 in a move to save costs. It was merged with the navy’s Fleet Forces Command.
The class is projected to total six, of which the first four are all due to be delivered by 2025, notwithstanding that the first boat, FS Suffren, is currently running three years behind schedule in the delivery profile.