Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Russian Aircraft Carrier Admiral Kuznetsov no Longer Launching Air Strikes after Complete Failure of Landing System

Land based navy

(Photo : Airbus/IHS) Spy satellite photo shows the six Sukhoi Su-33 multirole fighters from the Admiral Kuznetsov parked on a Russian airbase in Syria.

Russia has called off naval air strikes against anti-Assad rebels in Syria launched from the dilapidated RFS Admiral Kuznetsov (063), apparently after a complete failure of the aircraft carrier's arrester landing system that couldn't be fixed.

Western intelligence sources reveal the Kuznetsov embarked at least eight Sukhoi Su-33S carrier based air superiority fighters and four of the new MiG-29KR multirole fighters for its deployment to the Eastern Mediterranean.

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On Nov. 14, one of the carrier's Cold War-era Mikoyan MiG-29KR naval multirole fighters crashed into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after take-off during the aging carrier's first bombing mission against anti-Assad rebels.

"An air accident involving a sea-based MIG-29K occurred as a result of an equipment fault during an approach for deck landing several kilometers away from the aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov," said the Russian defense ministry in a press release.

"The pilot ejected himself from the aircraft and was taken to the Admiral Kuznetsov by a crew of the search and rescue service."

Russian state-owned media a week later said the MiG-29KR that crashed was circling Kuznetsov due to a problem with one of the carrier's four arrestor cables when both its jet engines failed, forcing the pilot to eject.

Western defense analysts, however, say three MiG-29s took off from the Kuznetsov and flew in the direction of Syria. Shortly after take-off, one of the MiGs appeared to have mechanical difficulties and turned back towards the carrier.

The Russian jet didn't make it and crashed into the sea while attempting to land. A Russian rescue helicopter picked up the pilot.

The failure of Kuznetsov's arresting gear system has forced the Russian Navy to remove all its fighters from the carrier and station them at the Humaymim Air Base in Latakia province, Russia's largest air base in Syria a few days later.

Western reconnaissance photos show the carrier's Sukhoi and MiG jets parked alongside other jets belonging to the Russian Air Force. The carrier's jets have been launching air strikes from Humaymin for the past two weeks.

The Kuznetsov isn't a true aircraft carrier in the same category as U.S. Navy carriers but is classified by the Russian Navy as a heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser.

She's 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.

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.

The Admiral Kuznetsov 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.

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