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Russian aircraft carrier to go to Mediterranean Sea carrying new fighters — source

Its aviation grouping will include fighters Sukhoi Su-33 (Flanker-D) and Mikoyan MiG-29K (NATO reporting name: Fulcrum-D)

MOSCOW, April 2. /TASS/. The Admiral Kuznetsov heavy aircraft carrier of the Russian Navy in autumn will arrive in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, its aviation grouping will include fighters Sukhoi Su-33 (Flanker-D) and Mikoyan MiG-29K (NATO reporting name: Fulcrum-D), a source told TASS on Saturday.

MiG-29K/KUB fighters were tested at the Admiral Kuznetsov back in 2009, but since then they have not been deployed there on a permanent base.

"According to plans of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, the Admiral Kuznetsov in September-October will enter the Mediterranean Sea, where it will become a flagship of the Russian Navy's grouping," the source said. "The aircraft carrier will have on board a mixed group of deck jets Sukhoi Su-33, Su-25UTG and Mikoyan MiG-29K."

During the months before the campaign, the jets’ crews "will practice skills of takeoff and landing on the carrier deck at ground training facilities in Saki (Crimea) and Yeisk (shore of the Azov Sea)," the source added.

On March 5, a high-ranking official at the Russian Navy told TASS the Admiral Kuznetsov in summer may go to the Mediterranean Sea. "This summer, we plan the Admiral Kuznetsov's campaign in the Mediterranean Sea, where it will lead the Navy group in that region," the source said.

Right now, the aircraft carrier is at Murmansk’s 35th Shipyard, where specialists prepare it for the long-distance campaign. The source, however, did not specify what tasks the flagship of the Russian Navy will have in the Mediterranean grouping.

Formation of the Russian Navy’s permanent grouping in the Mediterranean Sea began in 2013. As a rule, more than ten warships are in that region on the rotation basis.

The permanent naval grouping in the Mediterranean Sea now includes the missile cruiser Varyag armed with the Fort-M air defense system (the naval version of the S-300 antiaircraft missile complex) and the large antisubmarine warfare ship Vice-Admiral Kulakov.

Under the contract of February 2012, the Russian Navy will receive 24 MiG-29K deck-based fighters.