Russia navy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov
Russian navy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov undergoes maintenance and repair at a shipyard in Murmansk, May 20, 2022.Semen Vasileyev/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
  • The return to service of Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov will be delayed another year.
  • Defects in work being done on the ship mean it won't be delivered until 2024, according to state media.
  • It is only the latest problem for Kuznetsov, which has faced malfunctions and accidents throughout its life.

The Russian Navy's sole aircraft carrier, which has been waylaid by years of malfunctions and maintenance issues, will require another year before it can return to service from ongoing repair and modernization work, a military source told Russian state media on Tuesday.

Designated a "heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser," Admiral Kuznetsov was built in the late 1980s and entered service in 1990, though it wasn't fully operational until 1995. With recent upgrades, it can carry roughly two dozen fighter jets and 12 helicopters and is armed with anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles.

The carrier has been undergoing work at shipyards in northern Russia since 2017. Officials planned to return Kuznetsov to service in 2022, but in 2021 that was pushed to 2023.

The military source told the official TASS news agency this week that defects had been found in work being done on the carrier and that delivery would now be "no earlier than in 2024."

Russia navy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov
Admiral Kuznetsov during maintenance and repairs at a Murmansk shipyard, May 20, 2022.Semen Vasileyev/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Prior to the latest delay, a senior official with Russia's United Shipbuilding Corporation told TASS that upon its return, Kuznetsov would have "completely different combat potential" and serve for 10 to 15 more years.

Admiral Kuznetsov has been Russia's only aircraft carrier since the late 1990s, after Moscow sold and decommissioned other carriers inherited from the Soviet Union. Since then, Kuznetsov has suffered mechanical failures and accidents that have limited its operations.

A fire on board as it sailed near Turkey in 2009 killed a crew member. A month later, an accident while it refueled off the coast of Ireland spilled 300 tons of oil into the ocean.

Kuznetsov has become known for the dark black smoke it emits and the tugboats that accompany it in case of breakdown — both of which were on display when it sailed to Syria in 2016 for its only combat deployment.

During that deployment, two jets crashed into the ocean while attempting to land, prompting its air wing to redeploy to a base in Syria.

Russia navy aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov
Kuznetsov at a shipyard in Murmansk, May 20, 2022.Semen Vasileyev/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The refit begun in 2017 was meant to extend Kuznetsov's service life another two decades, removing missile silos and adding new electronics and anti-aircraft systems as well as allowing it to carry 50 aircraft. Since then, however, Kuznetsov has only had more problems.

In 2018, a floating dry dock holding the carrier sank, bringing down a 70-ton crane that smashed a hole in the deck and killing one worker. A year later, a fire broke out while workers were welding in the engine room, killing two and injuring 11.

Despite numerous proposals, including for a nuclear-powered carrier, the Soviet and Russian navies haven't fielded carriers with the size or capabilities of US carriers, in part because Moscow had competing priorities and limited resources.

Soviet-built carriers have lived on in different ways, however. Two Kiev-class carriers were sold to Chinese companies and became a hotel and museum. Another Kiev-class carrier was sold to India and became INS Vikramaditya in 2013.

Most notably, Admiral Kuznetsov's unfinished sister ship was sold to China in a shady deal in 1998. After a massive overhaul, it reemerged in 2012 as Liaoning, China's first aircraft carrier.

Read the original article on Business Insider