NITKA: The Russian way to train naval aviators (on a ground test simulator)

According to RIA Novosti the Russian Navy is to stop using the NITKA complex in Crimea. The new facility will be open in Yeysk, in the region of Sea of Azov.

Mastering arrested landing on arrested landing on aircraft carriers is one of the most important achievements in the career of naval aviators. So far, Russian Navy pilots trained to put a plane on a deck of a ship in Novofedorivka airbase, which is located in the Crimean region, near Sake city.

Nonetheless, after the 1989 political transformation, the base has found itself not to be in the Russian territory.

During the war in Ossetia, back in 2008, the base stopped to be a training centre for the Russian Navy, but it came back to life in 2010. However, the Russian Navy realized that it will not be a good solution to hire a training complex which is located  outside the borders of the country: the contract was signed again later, and during the period of August – September 2010, three Sukhoi Su-25UTG Frogfoot-B  and Su-27UB Flanker-C were based back in Saki for the proficiency training.

Soviet Navy Aviation stationed in Crimea for a long time. The Yak-38 Forgers were based there since 1970.

In the late ’80s training of the last generation of Soviet fighter pilots took place on MiG-29K Fulcrum-D and Su-27K, later designated as Su-33 Flanker-D aircraft.

The NITKA complex was a foundation for the training. NITKA stood for Ground Aviation Training and Research Complex (Nazemniy Ispitatelno-Tryenirovochniy Kompleks Aviatsii).

The infrastructure is modeled after the deck of Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, including a mock-up deck and take-off ramp.

Still, after 1989 taking training outside the borders of the country has become uncomfortable, hence the decision to build own, independent NITKA complex at Yeysk, near the Sea of Azov.

In this way the Russian Navy resigned from using the Ukrainian base.

The adaptation of Yeysk to the role is to be quite costly – according to Jane’s the bill is to be about RUR24 billion (735M USD).

Despite the cost the first stage of the works is to be finished in September this year. The training already started on July 16.

A training platform for helicopter pilots is currently under construction as well. The main element of the system is a floating deck, that will be used to train the pilots in mastering the landing when sea is rough or the vessel is moving. In comparison to the Ukrainian installations, this element is new, so it will be ready in 2016.

As the Russian Navy will no longer use the NITKA in the Crimean Penninsula the Kiev authorities have already started to look for new clients, India and China being on top of the list.

Here’s an informative YouTube video showing the facilities at the Crimean NITKA complex, nonetheless it is slightly inacurrate as the Russians don’t use steam catapults on their aircraft carrier.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

Image credit: Jane’s

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About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.