Russia’s Defence Ministry has released more film of its aircraft the Admiral Kuznetsov engaging in combat operations in the eastern Mediterranean.
The film shows SU33 and MiG29 fighters taking off and landing on the deck of the Admiral Kuznetsov before and after carrying out air patrols over Syria.
The Russian Defence Ministry claims that the SU33s and MiG29s have carried out air strikes in Syria using 500 kg bombs. However all the aircraft shown in the film actually carry air to air missiles, which appears to confirm that their primary role is air defence.
The film also shows brief pictures of some of the Admiral Kuznetsov’s escort ships, of some of the ground crew, of what looks like a control room, and of KA27 helicopters on patrol near the carrier.
A key role of the helicopters is search and rescue, and they have in fact been used in that way on two occasions after two of the Kuznetsov’s aircraft – an SU33 and a MiG29 – apparently suffered accidents with the arrestor cables and fell overboard. The helicopters successfully rescued the pilots on both occasions.
The two accidents illustrate an important point about this operation, which is that it is at least in part intended to provide the Russians with experience in carrying out this sort of operation, which they have never carried out before. We do not know whether the accidents were caused by equipment failures or human error, but either way the Russians have learnt of a problem in their carrier’s operations, and they are now doubt working to fix it.
As for the Admiral Kuznetsov’s famous engine problems of which so much has been said, there is no sign they have effected its operations in the slightest way, whilst by contrast both the British and US navies have in recent weeks experienced embarrassing breakdowns of some of their newest warships (see here and here). As it happens whilst the Admiral Kuznetsov is in action in the eastern Mediterranean all the US’s navy’s huge fleet of nuclear carriers are presently in port.