Russian navy chief Viktor Chirkov
Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, Viktor Chirkov, Moscow, Russia
Russia will begin building new aircraft carriers after 2020, Russian navy chief Viktor Chirkov said on Thursday, in a major boost to Moscow's ability to deploy air power abroad.
“At the moment, the construction bureau has received its assignment, the documents are being processed, and the money for the construction program has been allocated,” Chirkov said.
If the plans reach fruition, it would be a major boon to the Russian navy, which currently fields only one aging aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov.
The Kuznetsov, part of the navy’s Northern Fleet, was built in 1985 and has been scheduled to undergo a major overhaul.
Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov first announced a plan in November 2011 to construct new aircraft carriers, RIA Novosti reported, but he also said at the time that the state had not provided enough financing.
Another former Russian carrier, the Admiral Gorshkov, was sold to India in 2005, refitted and renamed the Vikramaditya. It is currently undergoing sea trials in the Barents Sea.
Russia is currently in the middle of a huge rearmament program, with $659 billion to be spent on arms procurement by 2020 according to the Defense Ministry.