For the first time in four years, naval pilots from Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Northern Fleet’s “Admiral Kuznetsov” is training take-off and landing at the Nitka training range at the Novofedorivka airbase on Crimea, this time without having to pay the estimated $700,000 rent of the complex would have cost.
The airbase and the training range – modeled after the deck of “Admiral Kuznetsov”– had been owned by Ukraine since the collapse of the USSR. An intergovernmental agreement for using the training range was signed by Russia and Ukraine in February 1997 and in the following years it was regularly used by pilots from the Northern Fleet. Russia has been planning to build its own training facility since 2009, but construction never started. Ukraine has tried to get China and India to rent the range, but without much success, and last year Ukraine announced that it was planning to disband the whole complex.
When Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014, the training range was taken over by the Russian Armed Forces.
Air Wing Kuznetsov has been training take-off and landing with Su-27 aircraft at Nitka since the end of August, a source says to Komsomolskaya Pravda. The pilots have not been involved in this type of training in four years. According to the source, the facilities are up for reconstruction.