Russia's only aircraft carrier, the Soviet-built Admiral Kuznetsov, has been slated to undergo modernization in 2018 following return from combat operations in Syria, the RIA Novosti news agency reported Wednesday.
Kuznetsov arrived off the Syrian coast earlier this month, and on Tuesday began combat operations against Syrian targets. It remains unclear what Kuznetsov contributes to this operation. Ostensibly, its fighter jets are bombing in Syria, but a video published by the Defense Ministry showed them taking off without bombs.
Read more about Kuznetsov's deployment to Syria, and what the Kremlin hopes to achieve: Putin's Great White Fleet.
Earlier reports suggested Kuznetsov would be modernized as early as 2017. The apparent delay in plans suggests the ship will either be deployed to Syria's coast longer than expected, or that the Defense Ministry is not yet convinced it is worth the money. The navy has been embroiled in an internal debate over the actual utility of the ship, which has limited combat use, for years.
Kuznetsov is joined off the Syrian coast by an impressive collection of more capable ships. The largest and most powerful of the group, the battlecruiser Peter the Great, was also reported as being scheduled for an overhaul in 2018 – after modernization of its sister ship, the Admiral Nakhimov, is completed.