Kuznetsov-class aircraft carrier

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An overhead view of Admiral Kuznetsov.
Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov in January 1996
Class overview
Name: Kuznetsov class
Builders: Chernomorsky Shipyard 444
Preceded by: Kiev class
Succeeded by: Ulyanovsk (cancelled)
Built: 1982–1990
In commission: 25 December 1990 – present
Completed: 2
Active: 2
General characteristics
Class & type: Heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser
  • 43,000-tonnes, light[1][2]
  • 53,000 – 55,200-tonnes, standard[1][2][3]
  • 58,600 – 67,500-tonnes, max[1][2]
Length: 305 m (1,001 ft)
Beam: 72 m (236 ft)
Draught: 11 m (36 ft)
  • Steam turbines 80,000 shp (60,000 kW)[3]
  • 200,000 shp (150,000 kW)
Speed: 29 kn (54 km/h; 33 mph)
Range: 8,500 nmi (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) @ 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph) 3,800 nmi (7,000 km; 4,400 mi) @ 29 kn (54 km/h; 33 mph)
Complement: 1,500
Aircraft carried:
  • 30–40
  • 18–32 × fixed wing aircraft
  • 17–24 × helicopters
Aviation facilities:
  • Angled arrested landing flight deck
  • Bow ski jump

The Kuznetsov-class aircraft carriers (also known as the Kreml class) were built for the Soviet Navy. Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov serves today in the Russian Navy. The only other ship in the class, Varyag, had not yet been commissioned when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991. Ukraine sold the unfinished hull to China, where it was completed and commissioned as Liaoning.[4]


While designated an aircraft carrier by the United States, the design of the Kuznetsov class implies a mission different from that of American carriers. The term used by her builders to describe the Russian ships is tyazholiy avianesushchiy kreyser (TAKR or TAVKR) – “heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser” – intended to support and defend strategic missile-carrying submarines, surface ships, and maritime missile-carrying aircraft of the Russian fleet.

In its fleet defense role the Kuznetsov's P-700 Granit (SS-N-19 NATO reporting name: Shipwreck) anti-ship cruise missiles, 3K95 Kinzhal (Gauntlet) surface-to-air missiles, and Su-33 (Flanker-D) aircraft are its main weapons. The fixed-wing aircraft on Admiral Kuznetsov are intended for air superiority operations to protect a deployed task force. The carrier also carries numerous helicopters for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and search and rescue (SAR) operations.


Hull and flight deck

The hull design is derived from the 1982 Kiev class,[5] but is larger. The flight deck, with an area of 14,700 metres (48,228.35 ft), is of a conventional angled-deck-carrier configuration, but equipped with a 12-degree ski-jump bow flight deck—instead of using aircraft catapults. This results in a configuration similar to that of the Royal Navy's Invincible-class aircraft carriers.

The shape of her flight deck is loosely similar to those of the U.S. Navy's and French Navy's aircraft carriers. Admiral Kuznetsov has a so-called "STOBAR" configuration: her flight deck is equipped with landing arrester-wires, but she has no catapults. The navalised Flanker has 12 hard points instead of ten and ordnance was limited to 6,500 kg (14,300 lb), because of the fighter's higher maximum takeoff weight (MTOW). Two aircraft elevators, on her starboard side forward and aft of her island, move her aircraft between her hangar deck and her flight deck.

Air wing

In the original project specifications, the ship should be able to carry up to 33 fixed-wing aircraft and 12 helicopters .[3]


Admiral Kuznetsov has twelve launchers for P-700 Granit (SS-N-19 Shipwreck) anti-ship surface-to-surface missiles, unlike NATO aircraft carriers which carry mainly surface-to-air weapons and little organic armament. The presence of this sizable anti-ship missile capability determines its typing as an aircraft-carrying cruiser.

For long-range air defense, the ship carries 24 vertical launchers for Tor missile system (SA-N-9 Gauntlet) surface-to-air missiles with 192 missiles.

For close-range air defense, the ship carries eight Kashtan Close-in weapon system (CIWS) mounts. Each mount has two launchers for 9M311 SAMs, twin GSh-30 30mm rotary cannons, and a radar/optronic director. The ship also carries six AK-630 30mm rotary cannons in single mounts.

For defense against underwater attack, the ship carries the UDAV-1 ASW rocket launcher.


A Su-33 on board Admiral Kuznetsov

The ship has D/E band air and surface target acquisition radar (passive electronically scanned array), F band surface search radar, G/H band flight control radar, I band navigation radar, and four K band fire-control radars for the Kashtan CIWS.

The ship has hull-mounted medium- and low-frequency search and attack sonar. The ASW helicopters have surface search radar, dipping sonar, sonobuoys, and magnetic anomaly detectors.

Propulsion and performance

Admiral Kuznetsov is conventionally powered by eight gas-fired boilers and four steam turbines, each producing 50,000 hp (37 MW), driving four shafts with fixed-pitch propellers. Her maximum speed is 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph), and her range at maximum speed is 3,800 nautical miles (7,000 km; 4,400 mi). At 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph), her maximum range is 8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km; 9,800 mi).

List of ships

Name Namesake Operator Builder Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov
(ex-Riga, ex-Leonid Brezhnev, ex-Tblisi)
Admiral Flota Sovietskogo Soyuza Nikolay Gerasimovich Kuznetsov  Russian Navy Soviet Shipyard No. 444, Mykolaiv 1 April 1982 6 December 1985 25 December 1990 Active in Service
(ex-Riga, ex-Varyag)
Liaoning Province  People's Liberation Army Navy 6 December 1985 4 December 1988 25 September 2012 Active in Service

Hull 1 – Admiral Kuznetsov

Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov was designed by the Neva Design Bureau, St. Petersburg, and built at Nikolayev South Shipyard in Ukraine. She was launched in 1985, commissioned in 1990, and became fully operational in 1995. The vessel was briefly sequentially named Riga, Leonid Brezhnev, and Tbilisi.[3] During the winter of 1995–1996 Admiral Kuznetsov deployed to the Mediterranean Sea to mark the 300th anniversary of the Russian Navy. In the autumn of 2000, Admiral Kuznetsov went to sea for rescue and salvage operations for the submarine Kursk. During the winter of 2007–2008, Admiral Kuznetsov again deployed to the Mediterranean.

Although technical and financial problems have limited operations, Admiral Kuznetsov is expected to remain in service to 2025.[citation needed]

Hull 2 – Liaoning

The second hull of the Kuznetsov class took a much more roundabout route to active service. Known first as Riga and then Varyag, she was laid down by Nikolayev South Shipyard in 1985 and launched in 1988. Varyag had not yet been commissioned when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, and was left to deteriorate in the elements. In 1998, the hull was sold by Ukraine to what was apparently a Chinese travel agency for ostensible use as a floating hotel and casino with the proviso that she would never become a functioning warship.[4] After an eventful journey under tow, she arrived in China in February 2002 and was berthed at the Dalian naval shipyard, where she was overhauled and completed as China's first aircraft carrier.[6]

In September 2012, the ship was commissioned in the Chinese navy as Liaoning,[7] named after the province where the shipyard is located. Today, she serves as a training carrier and its home port is Qingdao.[8]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov". Rusnavy.com. Retrieved 22 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Kuznetsov Class – Project 1143.5". Globalsecurity.org. 7 September 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Ударные корабли, Том 11, часть 1, Ю.В. Апалков, Галея Принт, Санкт-Петербург, 2003
  4. 4.0 4.1 "China aircraft carrier confirmed by general". BBC News. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Kuznetsov Class (Type 1143.5) Heavy Aircraft Carrying Cruiser, Russia". Naval-technology.com. Retrieved 22 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "China's first aircraft carrier 'starts sea trials'". BBC News. 10 August 2011. Retrieved 22 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "China's Liaoning carrier enters service". SpaceWar.com. 27 September 2012. Retrieved 22 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Liaoning Ship's first berthing at home port". People's Daily. 1 March 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links