Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier to start long-range mission in Mediterranean in late 2013

The Admiral Kuznetsov heavy aircraft carrier will be ready to act as part of a Russian naval group in the Mediterranean by the end of 2013, Navy Commander Adm. Viktor Chirkov said.

"The cruiser will complete its planned maintenance at the end of the year. It is expected to put out and perform a number of missions in an offshore oceanic zone as part of a group. Northern Fleet naval pilots will perform a number of missions on board this cruiser in the long-range mission," Chirkov said in an interview with Interfax on the occasion of the anniversary of the Northern Fleet's foundation marked on June 1.

Talking about the Admiral Kuznetsov's activities as part of a permanent operational group in the Mediterranean, Chirkov said this is possible on a rotation basis.

"After all, ships from the Northern, Black Sea, and Baltic Fleets will perform missions as part of this group. So why not," he said.

The Admiral Kuznetsov is the only aircraft carrier operated by the Russian Navy. In addition to Su-33 sea-based multirole fighters, the cruiser also carries Ka-27, Ka-28, Ka-29, Ka-32 helicopters and their versions.

The vessel has water displacement of 55,000 tonnes and an operational range of 8,000 nautical miles and can move at 29 knots. Its crew is comprised of 1,500 and flight crew 650 people. Its armament includes Granit anti-ship missile systems, Kortik and Klinok anti-aircraft systems, and Udav anti-submarine systems

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