Russia axes plan for new aircraft carriers: official

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A top Russian commander conceded Friday that Moscow lacked the funds to deploy a powerful new armada of aircraft carriers as promised by the Kremlin.

"The state armaments programme for 2011-2020 does not envision the construction of aircraft carriers," an unnamed senior official in Russia's Defence Ministry told the Interfax news agency.

He said current funding plans allowed the military to come up with new designs but not proceed with actual construction.

"Only then -- after completing the advanced designs -- can we examine the expedience of building aircraft carriers," the defence ministry officials said.

The Soviet Union had five aircraft carriers at the height of its power but Russia currently only has once -- the Admiral Kuznetsov.

This compares to the one functioning and six reserve aircraft carriers of the United States.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev made his country's re-emergence as a naval power one of the planks of a military programme that he announced with much fanfare in 2008.

Navy Commander Admiral Vladimir Vysotsky said that same year that Russia intended to build six new aircraft carriers -- three each for its Pacific and Northern Fleets.

© 2010 AFP

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