Russia to begin aircraft carrier upgrade this year

Russia will begin its planned repair and modernization project for its sole aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov in 2017, according to state media reports.

The carrier, a Soviet vessel that has been in service with Russia's navy since the early 1990s, will be upgraded at the Zverdochka shipyard in Severodvinsk. The operation will take 2 1/2 years.

"The decision to start Admiral Kuznetsov's modernization at Zvezdochka in the first six months of 2017 has been made. The project plan specifying the costs and the amount of work to be performed, will be completed within a couple of months," the TASS news agency reported, quoting an unnamed source. "All works onboard the ship must be finished by 2020."

The source went on to add that a contract has not been signed yet, and the operation could cost the Kremlin as much as $343 million.

The upgrades will aim to modernize electronic warfare, communication, intelligence, combat control and navigation capabilities for the Soviet-era ship.

Admiral Kuznetsov was recently deployed to Syria as part of Russia's anti-terror campaign in the country, according to RT International. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the move is intended to target extremists in the region, not to interfere with Syrian political affairs.

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