ASIA TIMES — The Russian Navy’s sole aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is set to deploy to the Mediterranean Sea with a new air wing configuration. Instead of just the Sukhoi Su-33, Kuznetsov will deploy with a mixed air group with comprised of Flanker-Ds, Su-25UTG Frogfoots and the new Mikoyan MiG-29K Fulcrum-D.
“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,” a Russian defense ministry source told the TASS News agency. “The aircraft carrier will have on board a mixed group of deck jets Sukhoi Su-33, Su-25UTG and Mikoyan MiG-29K.”
The carrier is currently at Murmansk, however its air wing will be practicing carrier takeoff and landing skills at training facilities in Saki, Crimea, and at Yeisk—which is on the shores of the Azov Sea. This is the new Fulcrum model’s first operational deployment in Russian service. The MiG-29K was tested onboard Kuznetsov in 2009—but has never deployed operationally with the Russian fleet.
The Indian Navy, however, operates a total of sixteen MiG-29Ks from the carrier INS Vikramaditya. New Delhi has ordered a total of forty-five Fulcrum-Ds to serve onboard Vikramaditya and the future INS Vikrant—which is set to become India’s first indigenous carrier in 2018. India might increase its MiG-29K/KUB fleet in the future as more carriers enter service.