Russian aircraft carrier escorted off Norway en route to Syrian coast
Russian cruiser-carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and other ships from its strike group were escorted off the Norwegian coast as they were sailing towards the Mediterranean.
NATO said it deployed ships that were under its command to monitor the presence of Russian warships, noting it was routine procedure in such cases.
Admiral Kuznetsov is sailing towards the coasts of Syria from where it will deploy Su-33 and MiG-29K/KUB fighter aircraft against ISIS strongholds.
This deployment was announced in July this year when it was reported that the ship would set sail once it undergoes repairs and trials.
Admiral Kuznetsov is sailing with the battlecruiser Pyotr Veliky, destroyer Vice Admiral Kulakov and anti-submarine ships. The group is expected to meet up with a nuclear submarine and Tu-160 long-range strategic bombers for anti-piracy and anti-terror drills before they reach their final destination.
The Russian aircraft carrier is a unique ship in that it is a carrier-cruiser, meaning that it is equipped with anti-ship and surface to air missiles and carries more armament than other nations’ carriers which basically serve as floating airbases.
The 305-meter long aircraft carrier displaces 62,000 tonnes and is one of two Project 1143 ships of the Russian Navy. Admiral Kuznetsov was commissioned into the navy in December 1990 thereby escaping the fate of its sister ship which was almost turned into a casino.
Varyag, as the sister ship was previously known, remained in Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union and was later sold to China as a hull for approximately $20 million. The ship was later renamed to Liaoning, refitted at the CSIC Dalian Shipyard and now serves as a training ship.