The Russian Northern Fleet is sending five inexperienced pilots without carrier qualification together with regular staff to the Crimea. For decades the peninsula was part of Ukraine, but Russia annexed it with military force in February/March 2014. Flying out of former Ukrainian Saky Naval Aviation Base the cadets will prepare for their deployment on board the sole Russian Navy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, according to a Northern Fleet’s press statement.
Over the course of several weeks Northern Fleet cadets and more senior flight crews will operate three Sukhoi Su-33 (“Flanker”) carrier-borne jets and three Sukhoi Su-25UTG (“Frogfoot”). The Su-25UTGs are especially adapted to train pilots in carrier operations, while using land-based simulated set-ups. A maximum number of 10 of the UTG versions are reportedly still in use with the Russian Navy.
The Northern Fleet plans to have its training deployment of a total of 70 personnel including ground crew make a total of 10 flights daily and perform practice runs on the NITKA carrier simulation range on the Crimea. No real deck landings are planned to be executed.
Although Russian forces did have an agreement with Kiev earlier to operate from Saky Naval Base and the NITKA range but the deal ended even before the Russian take-over of the Crimean facilities started. Last year a Ka-27, three Mi-14s, two AN-26s and one Beriev Be-12 of the Ukrainian Naval Aviation were seen fleeing the place under pressure, as caught on video somewhat down in our extensive Overview: Air Forces of Ukraine.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: An Russian Naval Aviation Sukhoi Su-33 preparing to launch from the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in the Barents Sea in October 2008 (Image © кремль Press Office)