Russia plans to rent naval pilot training facilities in Ukraine

Russian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov formally asked on Wednesday his Ukrainian counterpart Mykhailo Yezhel to rent facilities on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula for naval pilot training.

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.

“I have signed a request to the Ukrainian defense minister to allow us the [permanent] use of the Nitka facility for naval pilot training in the form of a rental or some other agreement,” Serdyukov said a meeting of the Council of CIS Defense Ministers at the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Commenting on the request, Yezhel said it would most likely be satisfied because Ukraine does not have its own aircraft carriers and has no plans to acquire them in the future.

The conditions of the potential rent, including the duration, will be subject of talks, he said.

The Nitka Center 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 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.

Russia, which has only one aircraft carrier – the Admiral Kuznetsov – is aiming to finish drafting plans for a new nuclear-powered aircraft carrier for its Navy by 2018.

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