Russian aircraft carrier still in the Mediterranean Sea. NATO planes watch closely

Aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is still in the Mediterranean where it operates watched closely by NATO E-3 AWACS.

Even if it has reportedly ended its mission and headed for Severomorsk, Russia’s aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is still sailing in the Mediterranean Sea.

Its position can be determined based on the NOTAMs (Notice To Airmen) issued for the Algiers FIR (Flight Information Region).

Two of them provide details about the area of operation of the aircraft operating from the carrier:

A0962/14 – AIRSPACE RESERVATION FOR RUSSIAN NAVY WILL TAKE PLACE PLAN FLTS FM ACFT CARRIER AVIATION WI AREA BRAVO (B): 3900N 00500E 3900N 00700E 3740N 00700E 3720N 00500E 3900N 00500E. SFC – FL180, APR 23 24 25 AND 26 HR:0800-1700, 23 APR 08:00 2014 UNTIL 26 APR 17:00 2014. CREATED: 21 APR 09:54 2014

A0961/14 – AIRSPACE RESERVATION FOR RUSSIAN NAVY WILL TAKE PLACE PLAN FLTS FM ACFT CARRIER AVIATION WI AREA ALPHA (A): 3745N 00220E 3825N 00400E 3720N 00400E 3700N 00210E 3745N 00220E. SFC – FL160, APR 24 25 AND 26 HR:0800-1700, 24 APR 08:00 2014 UNTIL 26 APR 17:00 2014. CREATED: 21 APR 09:47 2014

Russia aircraft carrier

Image above shows the waypoints of Area B put on a map using Skyvector.

While such warnings are often issued for (U.S.) aircraft carriers hence they are not really special, what is worth noticing is that the flying activity of the Russians in the Mediterranean Sea is watched closely by NATO E-3 planes.

Indeed, it seems that NATO AEW (Airborne Early Warning) planes have frequently operated in the Southeastern Mediterranean in the last few days, while Admiral Kuznetsov transited south of Malta towards the waters off Algeria, between Sardinia and the Balearic islands.

Most probably, the E-3s are not only observing the Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker-D all-weather carrier-based air defence fighters but also performing routine electronic surveillance by means of onboard electronic support measures (ESM).

H/T Roberto Petagna for sending us the relevant NOTAMs

Image credit: Russian Navy


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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. Strategic impact in that area = low to nil.

    Survivability for the Russian carrier in that area = nil

    Just a big target to sink with very limited land strike capability… its only impact would be keeping some NATO assets busy for a while.

    • and by a while I would say about 24 hours if the Ukraine crisis draws Nato into a shooting match.

      • Moot point. Any conflict between Russia and NATO or Russia and the U.S. would be one of attrition.

  2. Its Russia sole carrier I am sure the US has a couple Virgina LA or maybe a Sea Wolf class attack sub shadowing it and that is just the US as a betting man I would bet that EU Nato Navies have a few fast attack subs shadowing it also, and if the Ukraine goes full blown hot war that carrier will head to Davy Jones Locker

    • An unprovoked sinking of Russia’s only aircraft carrier seems pretty unlikely no matter what happens in Ukraine.

      • I guess you dont understand full blown hot war, it wouldnt be unprovoked.That carrier becomes another fat high value military target.

    • This ridicule over the Russian carrier is entirely unwarranted. Sure, in
      an event of a hot war that carrier would be sunk within less than 24
      hours. However, that would happen to every NATO carrier as well, since
      Russian ASh cruise missiles and Russian attack subs are more than
      competent enough to do that as well.

      Thing is that a hot war
      would escalate extremely quickly into a nuclear exchange, and all on
      here should know that a) Russian nuclear missiles are much more up to
      date than anything that the US or NATO can field, and b) nobody can win
      that military confrontation.

      So, thinking about whether that
      Russian carrier can be sunk, is the quickest way towards choosing your
      own untimely demise. Personally, I’d rather avoid that at all costs.

      • Russian nuclear missiles are much more up to date than anything that the US or NATO can field, lol can I have some of what your smoking?

      • Don’t forget that one of those much more up to date Russian Nuclear missiles was blown up in the middle of sky just 2 or 3 years ago and we in Iran spent a whole night watching the strange cloud it had made. Russian made weapons are not trustworthy. They don’t work most of the times.
        And of course we must not forget that if Russia begins to use nuclear weapons then the response would be nuclear weapons too! And as the US alone has more subs (which are hidden around the Russia under the deep waters) and ships, which are capable of launching nuclear missiles weather ballistic or cruise then it’s Russia who will lose the fight. So, Russia never is that much foolish to begin a fight with the whole NATO or even with the US alone.
        It’s just a political Issue mostly about Putin’s internal affairs, I mean Ukraine Crisis. He wants to become the “Life-Long Dictator Of Russia” and he needs this war or crisis with Ukraine ONLY! He never ruins his dreams by entering a war with the US. This would be just a suicide for him!

  3. The comments are getting more and more ridiculous every time an article about Russian assets is posted… it’s a small carrier, the only one they have, and it’s on cruise in international waters “strategic impact”, “survivability”…do you think the carriers that Italy, Spain or France can send on cruise have way more strategic impact or survivability than that old floating piece of steel? Not to mention that lone American warship in the Black Sea that was overflown by a Su-24…please..

    • The difference is that the environment they operate. Those carriers in the enemy backyard, mostly if the enemy is NATO.
      French Italian and Spanish carrier do have strategic impact since they operate with other NATO assets (air and sea), Their aircraft (Harriers, Rafales, Super Etendards) are far more capable than those Su-33’s, less cool, but way way way more realistic. Just look at Libya 2011 or Falklands 1982.

      • you really think that if Russia wants to go ball deep on Ukraine, it will leave that crappy carrier in the middle of Mediterranean Sea ??

        • Just saying, carriers are supposed to be power projection asset, hence operate far to show off and influence the politics with their sheer presence. Well not this one in that area.

          • Its all part of game theory. Carriers are good because they have several states from cold to hot. You can deploy them in an aggressive location, start crews on military exercises and then to combat. Missile systems on the other hand just have “fire” and no ability to recall or broker “peace”. Russia’s military strength is asymmetrical, carrier for carrier – the west would win, but its not the only asset the Russians have in their box. People should remember what happened to INS Eilat before writing off the Russians as has-beens.

        • You underestimate the nature of Putin, he is a former card carrying member of the Soviet Communist Party who attained the rank of Colonel in the Cold War era KGB, you dont not raise to that rank with out being cunning ruthless and cold blooded. As ruler of Russia he has placed many former Soviet KGB and Soviet military officials into the upper echelon positions of power in the Russian government.

          • & George Bush Sr being ex head of the CIA then VP and President of the USA. The person in charge when JFK was bumped off, had Natzi family connections. If you think Putin is bad, you should reassess the west.

      • This is Russia’s back yard, as you say. Nato has no business crowding the Russians there.
        How would the yanks feel, if Russian warships started cruising all around the Bay Area of SF and under the Golden Gate Bridge. ?
        Russian planes certainly do have a greater cool factor than the west and their technology is more advanced. Su-27 and Tu-160 is superb.

    • no the comments posted are foretelling what will happen if the Ukraine crisis goes into a full war and Nato gets into a shooting match.

    • The difference between western and Russian aircraft carriers is that the Russian air craft carriers have anti aircraft weaponry and cruise missiles on board. They are no sitting ducks.

      • That does nothing to stop a seawolf or virginia class sub from sending a couple torpedoes into her mid section.

        And US carriers are equipped with standard anti aircraft missiles. Here is another fact that Russian boat had her cruise missiles removed.

  4. I guess it carries some Portable Gas Oil Pumps as it can spin around there longer than expected! But wonder how they provide Gas Oil for those pumps!

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