MOSCOW -- Russia has announced plans to revive its once-mighty navy by building several aircraft carriers and upgrading its fleet of nuclear submarines in the coming years.
Russia's power at sea is a shadow of the formidable Soviet navy that challenged U.S. military dominance in the Cold War. But, with a strong economy now from booming oil exports, it is seeking to raise its profile on the world stage by modernizing the armed forces.
Russia will build five or six aircraft carrier battle groups in the near future, RIA news agency quoted Navy Commander Vladimir Vysotsky as saying during Navy Day festivities in St Petersburg on July 27.
"We call this a sea-borne aircraft carrier system that will be based on the Northern and Pacific fleets," Vysotsky said. "The creation of such systems will begin after 2012."
He said such carrier groups would operate in close contact with Russia's military satellites, air forces, and air defenses.
Russia now has only one aircraft carrier, the Soviet-built Nikolai Kuznetsov, which was launched in 1985 but did not become fully operational for 10 years due to the turmoil following the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991.
In fact, it is not even a fully-fledged aircraft-carrier, being officially called an air-capable cruiser. It carries fewer aircraft than U.S. carriers and features a steam-turbine power-plant with turbo-generators and diesel generators, while all modern carriers are nuclear-powered.
Vysotsky said that along with designing new aircraft carriers Russia would also modernize its new-generation nuclear submarines of the Borei class.