The Russian Ministry of Defence decided to give the Russian Naval Aviation’s carrier based fighters a frontline task between the cruises of the Navy’s sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.
Starting this week the Northern Fleet’s Sukhoi Su-33 (“Flanker-D”) jets fly regular all-weather patrol duties of the Russian Kola peninsula, the Arctic part of mainland Russia bordering with Norway and Finland.
The roughly 12 to 16 operational jets (out of an official strength of 24) of the 279th Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment fly the missions mainly from Severomorsk-3, their home base 15 miles (24 km) east of the city of Murmansk; a short flight of roughly 80 miles (135 km) to the Norwegian border.
Earlier the fighter jocks that operate from the heavy aircraft carrier Kuznetsov flew training missions in between cruises.
Russia’s sole fully capable aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, is moving again as of 28 March 2014. The Northern Fleet flagship has spent the past months on a long journey from its home in Murmansk.
The Kuznetsov, officially designated heavy aircraft carrying missile cruiser (tyazholyy avianesushchiy raketnyy kreyser or TAVKR), has been restocked by the tanker Sergey Osipov in the eastern Mediterranean and is now moving to an operations area south-west of the island of Cyprus, the Russian Ministry of Defence confirmed. Over the next few days naval aviators from the Northern Fleet Air Wing will practice carrier qualification and operation flights with their Sukhoi Su-33s fighter jets and Kamov Ka-27 maritime helicopters.
During the long voyage of the flagship of the Russian navy, which began on 17 December 2013, the Northern Fleet Air Wing pilots have made 300 sorties accumulating 260 hours of flight. Although new MiG-29K Fulcrums are coming into service to enlarge the combat capabilities of the Russian Navy Aviation, they were not mentioned in Moscow’s press release.