Russia is ready to rent facilities on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula for naval pilot training, Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said.
In line with a 1997 bilateral agreement, Russia occasionally uses the Nitka Naval Pilot Training Center in Ukraine as the only training facility for its naval pilots.
“We have discussed the use of the Nitka facility. Russia proposed [again] to rent it,” Serdyukov said on Wednesday after talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Mykhailo Yezhel.
Serdyukov said the Russian Defense Ministry is willing to upgrade this facility and use it jointly with Ukraine.
According to Russian estimates, the rent of the Nitka Center would cost Russia about $700,000 annually.
The facility was built in the Soviet era for pilots to practice their skills in taking off from and landing on an aircraft carrier’s deck.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the facility remained under Ukrainian jurisdiction. The Ukrainian Navy does not have an aircraft carrier, while Russia has only one – the Admiral Kuznetsov – and plans to build at least three nuclear powered aircraft carriers in the future.
The center provides naval aviation training facilities such as a launch pad, an aerofinisher, a trampoline, a catapult launching device, a glide-path localizer, a marker beacon, and an optical landing system.