Chief commander of the naval forces of the Russian Federation fleet admiral Vladimir Kuroedov has stated that Russian seaborne pilots will start their training on a decker complex "NITKA" (ground-based aviation training complex for scientific research) beginning next year in Crimea. He has also added that the delay of pilot training program has to do with some major repair works on board of the aircraft carrier "Admiral Flota Kuznetsov." It is scheduled to sail only in the end of 2004.
"Ministers of both Russia and Ukraine have reached consensus regarding the carrier's exploitation by Russian pilots. We expect that an official intergovernmental agreement will soon be signed," stated Mr. Kuroedov in his interview with the journalists. Kuroedov also talked about a critical condition of aviation machinery of the naval forces of the Russian Federation. "Aviation's technical alertness today constitutes 47%, whereas we need 80%", declared Kuroedov. Glavkom (main committee) noted in turn that "we will need additional two years to change current situation." According to the "Interfax-Ukraine" agency, Verhovnaya Rada (State government) has already passed a legislation of an agreement ratification between the two governments, Russian and Ukrainian about the use of the take-off and landing strip of "NITKA". The agreement was signed on February 7, 1997 in Kiev. It was registered on November 6. According to the agreement, Ukraine allows Russia to use its runway equipped with various mechanical innovations. Ukraine is also eager to train air crew, supply necessary equipment as well test naval and aviation machinery. Russia in turn provides ecological and other safety features on the premises.
After the USSR collapse, the "NITKA" training complex now belongs to Ukrainian Air-force. The simulator has been developed especially for take-off and landing purposes on board of aircraft-carriers without a catapult. Russians have already used the complex for pilot training purposes. In July of this year however, they have been denied access to Ukraine. A representative from the Ukrainian air-force department has stated that Ukraine is ready to provide "NITKA" in Crimea to train Russian Air-force seaborne pilots as soon as a rent price for previous years is paid in full. Russians owe approximately $300,000.