The Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier of the Russian Navy is still at the Shipyard in Murmansk for a planned overhaul
The latest images of the ship recently appeared in the Russian press, showing that its superstructure is still being renovated. It is expected that the old generation radar arrays will be replaced with new ones to bring higher combat performance. Not only that, Mr. Rakhmanov – Chairman of the United Shipbuilding Corporation said in an interview that the Kuznetsov aircraft carrier will be refitted with a new air defense system and power supply.
Designed as a heavy aircraft cruiser, the Admiral Kuznetsov possesses a powerful arsenal, including SS-N-19 Shipwreck supersonic anti-ship missiles, and SA-N-9 short-range air defense system. The 9M330 interceptor missile of the SA-N-9 complex has a maximum combat range of 12 km, capable of destroying anti-ship cruise missiles from a distance of 6 km. There are a total of 192 missiles arranged in 24 vertical launch cells.
Although creating a pretty good defensive umbrella, the Russians felt the need to extend the coverage of their aircraft carriers before the requirements of modern warfare, which led to an urgent need to upgrade their anti-aircraft firepower.
Previously, it was predicted that the ship would be equipped with new generation Pantsir-M anti-aircraft gun and missile modules to create homogeneity between modern warships about to serve in the Russian Navy. The maximum range of 20 km of the 57E6 missile is not really outstanding compared to the 9M330. This combat module is said to interfere with the take-off and landing of the aircraft, in addition to not taking advantage of the space of the old vertical launchers.
The most likely possibility is that this aircraft carrier will be integrated with the modern Redut-Poliment medium-long-range air defense system, which is also commonly equipped on many ships of the Russian Navy. This air defense system will simultaneously carry 3 types of interceptor ammunition: 9M96E with a range of 40 km, 9M96E2 with a range of 120 km, and short-range ballistic interceptor 9M100 with a range of 10 km. These missiles ensure to create 3 solid defenses for the ship, not only protecting itself but even protecting other ships in the fleet.
The upgraded configuration of the Kuznetsov is really interesting, although the number of missiles it carries will certainly be significantly reduced compared to the SA-N-9 configuration. The Russian Navy once expected its sole aircraft carrier to return to the fleet by the end of 2021, but that timeline has been pushed back to the end of 2022, and even longer.