|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Oct 16, 2016 07:09 AM EDT|
(Photo : Russian Navy) The Admiral Kuznetsov
Vladimir Putin is again flexing his military muscle by deploying the flagship of the Russian Navy -- the obsolete Soviet era RFS Admiral Kuznetsov (063) heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser -- to the Mediterranean Sea to both display Russian power and humiliate U.S. president Barack Obama.
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The Admiral Kuznetsov, the only carrier in the Russian Navy, has only one sister ship. This ship, the Liaoning, is operated by China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).
Both cruisers feature a ski-jump bow flight deck that limits the amount of ordnance their fighters and attack aircraft can carry.
The Kuznetsov is the largest ship ever built by Russia and is the flagship of the navy's Northern Fleet. She will be retired by the 2020s after being commissioned in the 1990s.
Today, however, she serves Putin's purpose to display the naval side of Russia's resurgent armed forces, hence her voyage to the Mediterranean where she will try to launch air and missile strikes against rebels in Syria allied with the United States.
Western military analysts doubt her seaworthiness since this aircraft carrier's history has been marred by an unending series of engine failures and other technical mishaps. During her fourth deployment to the Mediterranean in 2011, she was shadowed by the United States Sixth Fleet that anticipated she would sink along the way given her poor condition.
She caught fire during a previous deployment to the Mediterranean in 2009, an incident that killed one sailor. Her condition was so pitiful, Russian tugboats had to escort her in case her engines broke down.
Today, the Kuznetsov, which was recently refurbished, is being escorted to the Mediterranean by a small fleet consisting of aging warships like herself.
Her escorts are the 20 year-old Kirov-class battle cruiser RFS Pyotr Veliky (099), or Peter the Great; the 36 year-old Udaloy-class destroyer RFS Vice-Admiral Kulakov (626) and other anti-submarine Udaloy-class destroyers like the Kulakov that weren't named.
This mothball fleet will show the Russian Navy ensign and carry out combat operations against Syrian government foes. According to Moscow, the official mission of this geriatric fleet is to "respond to new types of modern threats like piracy and international terrorism," although the Mediterranean isn't known as a hotbed for piracy like the waters off Somalia.
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