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Kuznetsov class

Heavy aviation cruiser

Kuznetsov class

The Kuznetsov is primarily an ASW platform, but also has a considerable counter-air capability

 
 
Country of origin Soviet Union
Entered service 1991
Crew 1 960 men
Aircrew 626 men
Flag staff 40 men
Dimensions and displacement
Length 304.5 m
Beam 67 m
Draught 11 m
Hangar deck length 183 m
Displacement, standard 46 600 tons
Displacement, full load 59 400 tons
Propulsion and speed
Speed 29 knots
Boilers 8
 Turbines 4 x 37.3 MW
Aircraft
Fixed wing 12 x Su-33 or MiG-29K, 1 x Su-25UTG/UBP
Helicopters 2 x Ka-27S, 18 x Ka-27PLO, 4 x Ka-31
Armament
Missiles 12 x VLS for SS-N-19 'Shipwreck' SSMs, 24 x SA-N-9 'Gauntlet' eight-round vertical SAM launchers with 192 missiles, 8 x combined gun/missile systems with eight twin 30-mm Gatling guns and SA-N-11 'Grison' missiles.
Other 2 x RPK-5 (UDAV-1) ASW rocket systems with 60 rockets

 

   The Kiev class could never be considered true aircraft carriers. From the 1960s onwards, the rapidly expanding Soviet Navy began to see its lack of such a vessel to be a handicap, especially to a navy looking to spread its influence around the world.

   Several abortive projects were started, including the 1973 design for a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier of 85 000 tons which would be capable of accommodating 60 to 70 aircraft. In the early 1980s, two less ambitious projects began to make serious progress, the Project 1143.5 which was to become the Kuznetsov and the 75 000-ton Project 1143.7 which, had it been built, would have been the Ulyanovsk. This nuclear-powered ship with twin catapults was proposed to carry the upgraded Su-27KM and Yak-44 AEW/ASW fixed-wing aircraft within its complement of 60-70 aircraft.

   Initially, Western analysts anticipated that the ships would have a Combined Nuclear And Steam (CONAS) propulsion plant similar to the Kirov battle cruiser and the SSV-33 command ship. However the class was in fact conventionally propelled with oil-fired boilers.

   Although superficially similar to American carriers, the 60 000-ton Soviet aircraft carrier was always intended to be subordinate to missile submarines operating in their bastions in the Arctic. This aircraft carrier is capable of engaging surface, subsurface and airborne targets. The lack of catapults precludes launching aircraft with heavy strike loads, and the air superiority orientation of the air wing is apparent. Its main role is to protect ballistic missile submarines from hostile ASW aircraft.

   The first unit was originally named Riga. The name was changed to Leonid Brezhnev and then to Tbilisi before settling in October 1990 on Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov, normally being shortened to Admiral Kuznetsov.

   The flight deck area is 14 700 m and aircraft take-off is assisted by a bow ski-jump angled at 12 degrees in lieu of steam catapults. The flight deck is equipped with arrester wires. Two starboard lifts carry the aircraft from the hangar to the flight deck. The ship was originally designed to operate Su-27K, MiG-29K, Yak-41 (and later the heavier and more capable Yak-43) supersonic STOVL fighters, but the only fixed wing aircraft regularly taken to sea have been the Su-33, MiG-29K and Su-25UTH, the latter being used as an unarmed trainer. The Admiral Kuznetsov do not carries any airborne early warning aircraft. Instead it uses Ka-31 airborne early warning helicopters. It also lacks dedicated electronic warfare and defense suppression aircraft, that are used on the US carriers.

   Service of the Admiral Kuznetsov in the Russian Navy is plagued with various accidents and plane crashes. There are problems with the ship's propulsion system. Russia definitely struggles maintaining its only aircraft carrier and keeping it operational. There are no immediate plans in Russia to construct successor for this ship.

   As of 2017 it is planned that during the next couple of years the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier will be repaired, refurbished and upgraded.

   Construction of a sister ship (Project 1143.6, initially named Riga and later Varyag, the second of the class, started in December 1985 at Nikolayev, and the ship was launched in November 1988. Late in 1991 the Russian Defense Ministry stopped financing the carrier, and handed the hulk over to Ukraine. In 1998, the sale of the Varyag was announced to a Macau-based entertainment company. The unfinished hull was to be towed to the Far East where it would be converted into an entertainment complex and casino. Though this company appeared to be a front for the Chinese Navy. In China Varyag was restored and refitted. This aircraft carrier entered service with the Chinese navy in 2012 as the Liaoning. It was one of the most ambitious Chinese naval programmes. Currently Lianoning represents a significant shift in the balance of naval power in the area.

 

Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
Admiral Kuznetsov 1983 1985 1991

active, in service

Liaoning (ex-Varyag) 1985 1988 2012

sold to China and active with the Chinese navy

 

 

Video of the Kuznetsov class aircraft carrier

 
Kuznetsov class

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Kuznetsov class

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Kuznetsov class

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Kuznetsov class

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Kuznetsov class

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Kuznetsov class

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Kuznetsov class

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Kuznetsov class

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Kuznetsov class

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