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Russia to have new fighters for its carrier

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MOSCOW (BNS): Russia will soon have new fighter for its carriers replacing the Su-33 fleet. The replacement is expected to be complete after 2016.

"The Russian navy will adopt new carrier-based aircraft after 2016," deputy commander of Russian naval aviation Maj Gen Nikolai Kuklev, was reported saying.

The two options being explored are Su-27 KUB and MiG-29K Fulcrum. But before replacement comes, the Russian navy plans to continue with Su-33, which is expected to fly till 2015 after modernization and overhauling.

"Both aircraft have advantages and disadvantages. For instance, the Su-27KUB is heavier, but has a longer flight range. MiG-29K is lighter but its combat range is shorter," Kuklev was quoted by Russian media as saying. Russia operates only one carrier, the Nikolai Kuznetsov, also known as project 1143.5, which has been in service since early 1990s. It has recently joined the fleet after a complete overhaul. It is part of the northern fleet and was in the Mediterranean recently as part of regular exercise.

"We are considering extending the service life of the carrier. It will stay in service until 2020 and may be even until 2025," Kuklev said.
Su-33, which is known by the name of Flanker to the NATO forces, is capable of refueling in the mid-air. When launched, it was an improvement over Su-27. But the new Su-27 KUB came into existence in late 1990s. It has a larger wingspan.

The other aircraft, MiG-29 K, is a potent weapon, which has also been bought by India for its Russian aircraft carrier admiral Gorshkov. The carrier undergoing re-fitting and overhaul for India. The first of the MiG 29 Ks ordered by India is expected to arrive this year, much ahead of the carrier, which has been delayed due to a price dispute.

The Russian official said that MiG-29K is based on the basic MiG-29K frame. But it is much lighter. Until now the Indian navy uses Sea Harriers for its lone aircraft carrier INS Viraat which was purchased from Britain. After supplying MiG-29 K to India, Russia intends to use it on its own carrier. MiG-29 K is single seat multi-role aircraft designed to target airborne threats in the form of another aircraft, UAVs or missiles.

Russia hopes that it would complete the supplies to India in another couple of years. By the time Indian delivery is over, the aircraft would be ready for full operational use in the Russian navy.


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