The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia's only aircraft carrier, will have the Kalibr
missile system installed
during upcoming refit work. The new platform will replace the P-700 Granit anti-ship missile currently equipped onboard, utilizing a unique vertical launch system that is unified to launch both the Onyx
and Zircon supersonic missiles. Other additions involved in the $715 million modernization
include an upgraded electronic warfare, communication and aviation network. The vessel had previously spent 2016 in the Mediterranean Sea where aircraft onboard conducted some 420 air operations against militias fighting the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Russia’s “heavy aircraft-carrying cruisers” have received a lot of unfavorable attention from India’s snake-bit deal to refurbish the Admiral Gorshkov; in fairness, however, the Russians haven’t had much more luck with their own ship. Launched in 1985, it was not commissioned until 1995 – and since then, it has endured extremely long dockings and seen only limited deployment. When it’s operational, the The 55,000t Admiral Kuznetsov is a big step up from the smaller Kiev Class’ combination of Yak-38 Forger V/STOL (Vertical/Short Take Off and Landing) jets and naval helicopters, flying navalized SU-25 close air support fighters, multi-role SU-33s, or MiG-29K jets.
Natural resource exports have eased Russia’s budget woes, and the country wants to maintain carrier capabilities as it tries to rebuild its damaged defense industrial base. The current plan intends to begin designing a new carrier class in 2012 – and to dock the Kuznetov once again, in order to make major design changes and fix some long-standing issues.