Royal Air Force Fighters Buzzed Russia’s Creaky Old Carrier
‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ had visitors in the English Channel
by DAVID CENCIOTTI
Royal Air Force Typhoon fighters flew near Russia’s aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov on Jan. 24, 2017 as the vessel sailed through the English Channel on her way home after taking part in the Syria air war.
Royal Navy frigate HMS St. Albans also shadowed Admiral Kuznetsov and her battle group as they passed by the United Kingdom.
The Russian carrier and her battle group, including nuclear battlecruiser Pyotr Velikiy and the usual salvage tug, were returning home after completing their first-ever combat deployment. The aged flattop’s combat debut was plagued by crashes. A MiG-29K and an Su-33 were lost.
The three or four unarmed Eurofighters — two single-seaters and a two-seater along with a photo-ship, perhaps another Typhoon — flew near Admiral Kuznetsov in a show of force. The British fighters possess no real anti-ship capability.
Based on the official photographs, one Typhoon FGR4 — serial ZJ927 — carried a dummy Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile on its outer port pylon.
The flyby clearly irritated the Russians. “We have paid attention to the statement of the British Secretary of State for Defense Michael Fallon concerning the Russian carrier group which is passing the English Channel on its way home after combat task performance,” the Kremlin stated.
The goal of such statements and show concerning the escort of the Russian ships is to draw the attention of the British taxpayers away from the real state of affairs in the British navy.
First, the Russian combat ships do not need escort services; they know the fairway and the course.
Second, Mr. Fallon is recommended paying more attention to the British fleet all the more there is every reason for it according to the same British press.
The Royal Navy shot back with its own statement. “Remaining at a respectful distance, but keeping the Russian warships clearly visible, Royal Navy sailors keep watch on every movement through their binoculars and use state-of-the-art radars to track the course and speed of the ships as they pass close to the U.K.”
BBC defense correspondent Jonathan Beale claimed the Typhoons might have used their sensors to try to detect the Russian ships’ air-defense systems. In fact, the Typhoon’s Electronic Support Measures capabilities are quite limited compared to those of other, more-specialized aircraft including the Royal Air Force’s E-3D and Sentinel R1.
It’s possible the E-3D and Sentinel also shadowed Admiral Kuznetsov. IF they did so, they certainly flew a safe distance from the Russia ships while the nimble Typhoons hogged the spotlight with their own overflight.