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    Russia’s Sole Aircraft Carrier: A Symbol of Decline or Hope for Revival?

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    As the fate of Russia’s flaAs the fate of Russia’s flagship aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, remains shrouded in uncertainty.

    Since 2017, the Kuznetsov has been docked, undergoing a seemingly endless overhaul, raising questions about Russia’s naval capabilities and ambitions.

    If the Kuznetsov is restored to service, its impact will likely be minimal due to its antiquated technology and limited capabilities.

    With the planned return of the Kuznetsov to the fleet scheduled for 2024, and considering that half of 2024 has already passed without any signs of its readiness, the future of the vessel appears uncertain.

    While the Admiral Kuznetsov is technically an aircraft carrier, it differs significantly from the popular image of such vessels seen in movies like Top Gun.

    In contrast to the conventional notion of a 1,000-foot nuclear-powered supercarrier launching and retrieving F-14s and F-18s with advanced catapult systems, the Kuznetsov operates on Mazut, a fuel that has been largely obsolete for fifty years.

    The reliance on Mazut underscores the outdated nature of the Kuznetsov, as this type of fuel produces a thick black smoke that can coat everything on the ship, including crew members’ skin and clothing.

    Unlike nuclear-powered carriers that can operate continuously for up to twenty-five years, the Mazut-powered Kuznetsov has a limited endurance of just forty-five days, further highlighting its technological shortcomings and operational constraints.

    The Admiral Kuznetsov’s woes resonate beyond its own deck, reflecting on Russia’s larger maritime aspirations.

    Despite Admiral Nikolay Yevmenov’s statements hinting at plans for a new “prospective naval aircraft carrying complex,” the feasibility of such ambitions is questionable.

    The country’s historical attempts to develop new carriers, like the proposed Shtorm project, have made little progress.

    Several months ago, the leader of the Russian Navy hinted at the possibility of a new aircraft carrier being developed.

    Commander-in-Chief Admiral Nikolay Yevmenov disclosed to the state-owned Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper that preparations for a new aircraft carrier are currently in progress.

    Yevmenov gave no timeline on when such a future carrier could enter service, or even where it could be built.

    Russia has struggled to refit the flagship Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov, and during it now odyssey-long time undergoing a modernization, which involved a crane falling on the flight deck, while it further suffered multiple fires, and seen its completion date pushed back on numerous occasions.

    Relevant articles:
    Will Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier Ever Sail Again?, The National Interest
    Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov Aircraft Carrier May Get Scrapped for Good, The National Interest
    Russia Wants a New Aircraft Carrier But It Won’t Ever Happen, nationalinterest.org
    A ‘Dead’ Aircraft Carrier: Is Russia’s Last Carrier Worth Fixing?, 19FortyFive

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