On Sunday, RIA Novosti interviewed Naval Aviation Chief, General-Major Igor Kozhin on his branch’s 95th anniversary.
The news agency’s recap reminded that Naval Aviation lost its strike assets to the Air Forces on 1 April. And, by year’s end, all remaining Su-27, MiG-31, Tu-22 and part of its transport aircraft will move to the VVS. Only land-based ASW and carrier aviation will remain.
Asked about training, General-Major Kozhin focused on cost and retention. He claimed training a pilot costs a rather exorbitant $1.5 to 2 million annually. He indicated the need to keep older, experienced personnel — even in a civilian capacity — to train his younger pilots.
On upcoming training, Kozhin said his one regiment of 20 carrier-qualified pilots will conduct 100 takeoffs and landings from the Fleet Admiral of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov in August and September.
Kozhin said Kuznetsov is currently preparing for sea, and there’s no plan for capital repairs even though a replacement isn’t foreseen at this time.
He gave no hint of any impending carrier deployment as rumored earlier this year.
RIA Novosti asked about renting the NITKA carrier trainer in Ukraine. Kozhin answered by updating the construction of a similar facility at Yeysk, in Krasnodar Kray. He said toward fall the takeoff and landing strip will be complete, then landing systems will be installed, and the ground-based carrier simulator will be functional in 2013. He said the entire Naval Aviation training complex will be finished in 2015.
Finally, on new aircraft, Kozhin said the first four MiG-29K for Naval Aviation could apppear in 2012, but the Defense Ministry will have to sign the contract before mid-August. Otherwise, the first delivery will be in 2013. In all, a Navy buy of 20 is planned, but the factory is busy now filling India’s order for fighters for the ex-Gorshkov being renovated at Sevmash.