Things are heating up with the fight against ISIL in Syria.  Russia is deploying its only aircraft carrier to the Mediterranean sea in a show of force.

The Russians are doing their best to match the United States in the war in Syria. Russia’s state run media TASS reports that Vladimir  Putin is now sending Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, to the Mediterranean region.  This appears to be a delay from original plans to send the carrier this summer.

The US currently has the USS Eisenhower operating in the same region. Ike is deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security operation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.

A two carrier presence is nothing new for the United States. But having the other carrier be a Soviet one is something completely new.

The Kuznetsov is fairly limited in its capability.  It currently only carries 15 aircraft and uses a ski-jump platform to launch aircraft. The planes launched from Kuznetsov have a reduced maximum takeoff weight in order to get airborne from self power.  This means they carry less fuel and must strike within shorter ranges.  This places the Russian carrier closer to the shore and in a more vulnerable position.

US based Nimitz class carriers can carry up to 75 aircraft and use a steam catapult to launch aircraft.  This increases the overall range of strike aircraft, allowing the US carriers to be displaced much further from shore.

Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Chris Logan fires a shotline to the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Bighorn (T-AO 198) on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Neo Greene III/Released)
Chief Aviation Electronics Technician Chris Logan fires a shotline to the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Bighorn (T-AO 198) on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Neo Greene III/Released)

Russia’s deployment is more of a statement to the US than an effective use of firepower. Additionally, it is likely the USS Eisenhower will move towards the 5th Fleet area of operations prior to the Kuznetsov’s arrival.

The Admiral Kuznetsov is expected to deploy from October 2016 to January 2017. The Russian media outlet reported that “about 15 fighters Su-33 and MiG-29K/KUB and more than ten helicopters Ka-52K, Ka-27 and Ka-31,” would carry out strikes from the ship.

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You can read more about the Kuznetsov here.

Top Photo Credit: Worldwideaircraftcarriers