Russia may build new aircraft carrier after 2015

By RIA Novosti

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (Russia) : Russia may start construction of a new aircraft carrier after 2015, the Russian Navy commander said Monday.

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At present, Russia has only one operational aircraft carrier, the Nikolai Kuznetsov, which was commissioned in the early 1990s and has recently re-entered service after a prolonged overhaul.

"The ship (Kuznetsov) has been fully overhauled and will serve (in the Navy) for a long time, but not forever, which is why we are planning to design and build a new modern aircraft carrier," Admiral Vladimir Masorin said.

According to the Navy chief, the Nikolai Kuznetsov is currently deployed with Russia's Northern Fleet and is ready to host the assigned aircraft, which include 12 Su-33 Flanker D naval fighters, five Su-25UBP combat trainers and over 20 helicopters.

Masorin said the main characteristics of the new aircraft carrier would be outlined by the end of the year to jump-start work on the design of the ship.

He also outlined the future structure of the Russian Navy, saying that Russia currently had about 300 surface ships, but they were mainly missile corvettes, patrol boats and minesweepers.

"We have an aircraft carrier, two nuclear-powered battle cruisers, three missile cruisers…strategic naval forces etc," Masorin said. "But if we mentioned aircraft carriers, we would want to maintain and use the capability that we already have for the time being."

The Navy commander said that in 20-30 years Russia would have the economic capacity to deploy an aircraft carrier group in the Northern Fleet and, potentially, a similar group in the Pacific Fleet.