Russian's biggest warship and sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, will make its first combat deployment this year -- some 26 years after it was commissioned, according to a news report.
The ship is scheduled to cruise to the eastern Mediterranean Sea in October for a four-month deployment to launch airstrikes against militants in Syria, the Russian news agency TASS reported July 2, citing an unnamed military-diplomatic source in Moscow. The U.S. website the Daily Beast also reported the news.
"The General Staff has prepared a plan for involvement of the deck aircraft in delivering strikes on terrorist groups in the Syrian Arab Republic, where the crews will practice taking off the carrier to deliver strikes on ground targets," the source told the Russian agency.
The angled-deck vessel will carry about 25 fixed wing and rotary aircraft, including about 10 fighter jets such as the Sukhoi Su-33 (known as the Flanker D in NATO parlance) and Mikoyan MiG-29K/KUB twin-engine fighters and about 15 attack helicopters such as the Kamov Ka-52K, Ka-27 and Ka-31.
The ship's crew will coordinate the airstrikes with colleagues at Russia's Hmeymim air base in Syria south of the port city of Latakia in the eastern part of the country, according to TASS. The ship is currently undergoing trials in the Barents Sea after repairs, it reported.