Russian jets are falling down like confetti. Pentagon is having a heart attack
Russia has lost a second fighter jet operating from its only carrier in three weeks.
What could be the reason? Perhaps the Admiral Kuznetsov just isn't that great of a ship. In fact it probably isn't (might be better after a refit though). In its 25 years of service it has spent far more time in port being repaired than out sailing.
Which incidentally also means that Russia doesn't have very many experienced carrier pilots and zero experience flying real strike sorties from a flat top.
So what happens when you send a troubled warship and inexperienced personnel off for a first battle test? For starters there is a huge learning curve -- which means challenges will be great, but so will potentially be the value of knowledge and experience gained.
Challenges certainly do appear to be great with first a MiG-29 lost and now a Su-33, setting back the Russian taxpayer some $80 million.
(Albeit the Kuznetsov, unlike American designs, is not only a carrier but also a cruiser and as such relies also on its anti-ship and anti-submarine missiles for offense in addition to its air wing.)
In both cases the Russians have blamed a faulty arrestor cable for the loss of plane. The Su-33 was lost when the cable snapped and the pilot erred in not increasing throttle and so did not have power to lift off again. The MiG-29 was lost when it ran out of fuel waiting for the arrestor cable to be fixed. (Why it couldn't be diverted to a landing strip in Syria is a mystery.)
One group of people which is certainly observing all of this with dread are US defense contractors and generals. Here they are battling to keep the military spending big to better fight the Red Army invasion of Europe pouring through the "Suwalki Gap", while the Russians are uncooperatively going around making fools of themselves in full view of the western media which is pretty much in the process of rechristening the Kuznetsov into "Putin's Embarrassing Carrier".
Which leads to the question, did Vladimir Putin fiddle with Kuznetsov arrestor cable? The man has been proven to have orchestrated the election of Trump, EU's refugee crisis and the outcome of Brexit. What is chucking a few jets from the sky to burn a hole in the Pentagon's budget for an all-controlling mastermind like that?