Russia has just given up on trying to launch strikes from its rickety aircraft carrier

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A Su-33 prepares for takeoff from the Admiral Kuznetsov.
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Russian MoD

Russia’s sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, began its first combat deployment to Syria with plenty of fanfare, but a recent report from IHS Jane’s indicates Russia has given up entirely on launching strikes from the carrier.

Satellite imagery obtained by Jane’s shows Su-33 jets and one MiG-29KR previously aboard the carrier now stationed at the Hmeymim air base in Syria alongside land-based planes from Russia’s air force.

The Kuznetsov, never an entirely reliable system, had one of its MiG-29KRs crash in November, and another pilot had to eject after the Kuznetsov’s landing gear failed and couldn’t receive the aircraft, Jane’s reports.

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A MiG-29K takes off of the Admiral Kuznetsov.
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Mikoyan Gurevich

Military analysts speculated before the deployment that the Kuznetsov added “nothing” to the battle, as Moscow already has a wealth of strike aircraft in Syria, and cruise missiles fired from the Russian navy ships stationed in the Mediterranean don’t offer any significant advantages over the cheap, unguided bombs Russian planes freely drop in the uncontested airspace above Syria.

The Russian Ministry of Defense did manage to crank out a few high-quality videos during the two or so weeks the Kuznetsov actually sustained operations, which fits the narrative put forth by the US Naval Institute’s news service that the deployment was “propaganda, not practical.”

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Sukhoi Su-33 launching from the Admiral Kuznetsov in 2012.
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Russian MoD Photo