Jan 5, 2010
Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov
While designated an aircraft carrier by the West, the design of the Admiral Kuznetsov' class implies a mission different from that of either the United States Navy’s carriers or those of the Royal Navy. The term used by her builders to describe the Russian ships is tyazholyy avianesushchiy kreyser (TAKR or TAVKR) - “heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser” - intended to support and defend strategic missile-carrying submarines, surface ships, and naval missile-carrying aircraft of the Russian Navy. Russia claims that this designation allows the Soviet/Russian navy to circumvent the Montreux Convention, which deals with ships passing the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. However, it is not a political designation, as the Soviets intended their carriers to be used differently from Western conceptions of their role.
The Admiral Kuznetsov's main fixed-wing aircraft is the multirole Su-33. It can perform air superiority, fleet defense, and air support missions and can also be used for reconnaissance and searching for naval mines. It is augmented by the twin seat Su-33UB, which is also used for pilot training along with the Su-25UTG. The carrier also carries the Kamov Ka-27 and Kamov Ka-27S helicopters for anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, and small transport.
For take-off of the fixed wing aircraft, the Admiral Kuznetsov uses a ski-jump at the end of its deck. On take-off aircraft accelerate toward and up the ski-jump using their afterburners. This results in the aircraft leaving the deck at a higher angle and elevation than on an aircraft carrier with a flat deck and catapults. The ski-jump take-off is less demanding on the pilot, since the acceleration is lower, but on the other hand results in a clearance speed of only 120–140 km/h (75-85 mph) requiring an aircraft design which will not stall at those speeds
The cruiser role is facilitated by the Kuznetsov's complement of 12 long-range surface-to-surface anti-ship Granit (SS-N-19) (NATO name SHIPWRECK) cruise missiles. This armament justifies the ship's Russian type designator "heavy aircraft carrying cruiser".
After a maintenance period she was back at sea on October 11, 2008 where drills were held in the Barents Sea. Russian President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief Dmitriy Medvedev visited the ship on October 12, 2008 during the Stability-2008 strategic exercises.
On December 5, 2008 the aircraft carrier and several other vessels left Severomorsk heading for the Atlantic on a tour which was announced would be lasting several months and which would include combat training including joint drills with Russia's Black Sea Fleet and visits to several ports in the Mediterranean. On this tour while the Admiral Kuznetsov anchored off Turkey on January 7, 2009 a small fire broke out on the ship. One crewmember was killed by carbon monoxide poisoning. The fire was caused by a short-circuit. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies the Admiral Kuznetsov is routinely followed by two tugs in case of breakdown