Thursday, October 20, 2016

RCAF CP-140 Aurora Will Track Russian Aircraft Carrier

By: Tim Ripley, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

Russia's only aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, and a supporting naval task group has set sail for the Mediterranean, state-owned news agency TASS has reported.

"The group consists of the aircraft-carrying heavy cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov , the battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy , large anti-submarine ships Severomorsk and Vice Admiral Kulakov and support vessels," according to a statement from the Russian Northern Fleet on 15 October, reported by TASS later that day.

The mission of the deployment is "to ensure naval presence in the important areas of the World Ocean", said the Northern Fleet statement. "Special focus will be made on safeguarding security of maritime traffic and other types of maritime economic activity of Russia and also on responding to the new kinds of modern threats such as piracy and international terrorism."
NATO has been developing plans to monitor the progress of Admiral Kuznetsov and its battlegroup as they transit through the North Atlantic and into the Mediterranean. Many of the alliance's naval and air assets participating in Exercise 'Joint Warrior' off the west coast of Scotland are expected to be drawn upon for the surveillance operation, including Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora and US Navy Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft temporarily deployed to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland.

UK assets on call for the surveillance operation include a Type 23 frigate and a Type 45 destroyer to shadow the Russian ships, a senior UK military official has told IHS Jane's . Royal Air Force aircraft are also being prepared for the operation. These include a Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint electronic eavesdropping aircraft, a Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules transport being used in the surface surveillance role and Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft to shadow any Sukhoi Su-33 or Mikoyan MiG-29K naval strike fighters launched from the Russian carriers.

A UK Royal Navy spokesperson told IHS Jane's on 15 October, "UK and NATO assets routinely monitor warships from other nations when they enter our area of interest and this will be no different."

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