The Kirov-class battlecruiser is a class of nuclear-powered warship of the Russian Navy, the largest and heaviest surface combatant warships (i.e. not an aircraft carrier or amphibious assault ship) in operation in the world. Among modern warships, they are second in size only to large aircraft carriers, and of similar size to a World War I-era battleship. The official designation of the ship-type is “heavy nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser” (Russian: тяжёлый атомный ракетный крейсер). The ships are often referred to as battlecruisers by western defense commentators due to their size and general appearance.
Originally built for the Soviet Navy, the class is named for the first of a series of 4 ships to be constructed, Kirov, which was renamed Admiral Ushakov in 1992. Original plans called for the construction of 5 ships, however the last was cancelled. In Russia this class of ship is usually referred to by the designation Project 1144 Orlan (sea eagle). Only Pyotr Velikiy is currently operational. Admiral Nakhimov is projected to re-enter the Russian Navy in 2018. Russia planned to reactivate the remaining two vessels by 2020, but recent reporting suggests that the reactors in Admiral Ushakov and Admiral Lazarev are in a poor condition, and these ships cannot be safely reactivated.
The appearance of the Kirov class played a key role in the recommissioning of the Iowa-class battleships by the United States Navy in the 1980s.
The Kirov hull design also was used for the nuclear-powered SSV-33 command ship Ural.
The Kirov class’s main weapons are 20 P-700 Granit (SS-N-19 Shipwreck) missiles mounted in deck, designed to engage large surface targets. Air defense is provided by twelve octuple S-300F launchers with 96 missiles and a pair of Osa-MA batteries with 20 missiles each. Pyotr Velikiy carries some S-300FM missiles and is the only ship in the Russian Navy capable of ballistic missile defence. The ships had some differences in sensor and weapons suites: Kirov came with SS-N-14 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) missiles, while on subsequent ships these were replaced with 9K331 Tor surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. The Tor installation is in fact mounted further forward of the old SS-N-14 mounting, in the structure directly behind the blast shield for the bow mounted RBU ASW rocket launcher. Kirov and Frunze had eight 30 mm (1.2 in) AK-630 close-in weapon systems, which were supplanted with the Kashtan air-defence system on later ships.
Other weapons are the automatic 130 mm (5 in) AK-130 gun system (except in Kirov which had two single 100 mm (4 in) guns instead), 10 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo/missile tubes (capable of firing SS-N-15 ASW missiles on later ships) and Udav-1 with 40 anti-submarine rockets and two sextuple RBU-1000 launchers.
Russia is developing a new anti-ship missile to equip Kirov-class ships called the 3M22 Zircon, which is capable of traveling at Mach 5 (hypersonic speed) out to at least 250 mi (220 nmi; 400 km). If the missile passes developmental tests, it could enter service in 2020, being deployed first aboard the Admiral Nakhimov and later on the Pyotr Veliky when it finishes upgrades in 2022.