Happy Friday, FighterSweep Fans! It appears as though Vladimir Putin is looking to increase the Russian military’s presence in the Middle East. TASS reported this past Saturday the heavy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov will be setting sail for the Mediterranean sometime this summer.

A high-ranking official in the Russian Navy says, “we plan the Admiral Kuznetsov’s campaign in the Mediterranean Sea, where it will lead the Navy group in that region.”

The Kuznetsov, the flagship of the Russian Navy, is currently moored at the 35th Shipyard in Murmansk, undergoing preparations and re-fitting for its upcoming cruise.

The ship’s overall design is derived from its predecessor, the 1982 Kiev¬†class, but is noticeably a larger craft. The flight deck is of a conventional angled-deck configuration, and is also equipped with a ski-jump flight deck at the bow o the ship. Instead of using aircraft catapults, the sky jump has a pitch of 12-degrees, which is very similar to the British Royal Navy‘s carriers.

Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker-Ds aboard the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. (Courtesy of su27flanker.com)
Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker-Ds aboard the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov. (Courtesy of su27flanker.com)

Admiral Kuznetsov is a “STOBAR” vessel, meaning Short TakeOff But Arrested Recovery: her flight deck is equipped with the standard landing area arresting cables, but she is lacking catapults used by French and American aircraft carriers. According to original design specifications, the full complement of the Kuznetsov is thirty-three fixed-wing aircraft and up to twelve helicopters.

The Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker-D, the Russian Navy variant of the popular fourth-generation fighter, features 12 hard-points instead of the standard ten, and ordnance was limited to just over 14,000 pounds because of the fighter’s higher max takeoff weight.

It’s unclear what all of the Kuznetsov’s taskings will be once it reaches the Mediterranean, but it certainly gives a degree of flexibility to Putin’s Navy for conducting combat operations over Syria and other areas where he is looking to expand his sphere of influence. We will find out soon enough!

(Featured photo courtesy of Wikipedia)