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Russia to finalise draft plans for its new aircraft carrier by 2012

The Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia's only aircraft carrier.A File Photo

MOSCOW (BNS): Having only one aircraft carrier in its Navy, Russia is planning to commission another one, the drafting plans for which will be finalised by 2012, a senior defence ministry official has said.

“We are planning to resolve all the issues in 2010-2011, and after that we will make a final decision. At this point it is necessary to determine all technical specifications of the ship and the means of achieving them. Simultaneously, we have to decide on the strategic uses of aircraft carriers in the future,” Vladimir Popovkin, deputy defense minister for procurements, was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti news agency on Tuesday.

Admiral Kuznetsov is the only aircraft carrier in the Russian Navy. Built in 1985 with a displacement of 55,000 metric tons, the flagship carrier has a crew of 1,500, and capability to carry over 50 aircraft.

Earlier in February, the head of defense contracts at the United Shipbuilding Corporation, Vice Adm. Anatoly Shlemov, had said that the new-generation aircraft carrier would most likely be nuclear-powered, and have a displacement of up to 60,000 metric tons.

It would serve as a seaborne platform for new-generation fixed- and rotary-winged aircraft, in particular a fifth-generation fighter set to replace the Su-33 multirole fighter aircraft currently in service, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

However, the new carrier would not be armed with cruise missiles, the official had said, adding that at least three such carriers were to be built for the Northern and Pacific Fleets of the Navy.

The estimated cost of the new carrier is $4 billion, the agency said.

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