The modernization of the flagship of the Russian Navy, the aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov, will cost much less than building a brand-new ship of the same class, Navy Veterans’ Union Co-Chairman Viktor Blytov said in a radio interview.
“The addition of modern systems of electronic warfare, communication and replacing the ship’s aviation network could cost an estimated 40 billion rubles ($715 million). I guess this is not too much,” Blytov said.
He added that the construction of a new aircraft carrier would set Russia back about $5 billion. Traditionally, Russia has relied upon submarines rather than carrier groups. Japan and Italy are the only countries besides the United States to have more than one aircraft carrier in service.
In March, Navy Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Vice Admiral Viktor Bursuk, said that repair work on the Admiral Kuznetsov would start this year. He added that there would be no serious changes made to the ship, and that fault detection would be carried out to determine the repair dateline.
Bursuk pointed out that the amount of funds, which the government has allotted for renovating the ship, would be “sufficient to ensure its maintenance and the restoration of its technical readiness.”
The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s sole aircraft carrier, was commissioned in 1990 and has not undergone any major overhauls following a two-year refit between 1996 and 1998.
In October 2016, a Russian naval group, headed by the Admiral Kuznetsov which also included the Pyotr Veliky battle cruiser and, the Severomorsk and Vice-Admiral Kulakov anti-submarine destroyers, the Admiral Grigorovich frigate, and support vessels, deployed for three months to the Mediterranean Sea to support Russian combat operations in Syria.
During the three-month deployment, Russian carrier-based aircraft conducted 420 sorties, destroying 1,252 terrorist targets in Syria.
On January 6, 2017 President Vladimir Putin ordered the group to return to Russia’s Northern Fleet base after a new Syrian ceasefire was announced in late December 2016. The group returned to the base on February 8.
In April, the Admiral Grigorovich frigate returned to the Russian Navy’s permanent group in the Mediterranean Sea shortly after the United States launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at the Syrian military airfield in Al Shouairat.