Kiev Class Aviation Cruiser

The Kiev-class aircraft carriers (also known as Project 1143 or as the Krechyet (Gyrfalcon) class) were the first class of fixed-wing aircraft carriers built in the Soviet Union.
First laid down in 1970 the Kiev class was partially based on a design for a full-deck carrier proposed in Project Orel. Originally the Soviet Navy wanted a supercarrier similar to the American Kitty Hawk-class. However, the smaller Kiev class design was chosen because it was considered to be more cost effective.
Unlike American or British carriers, the Kiev class is a combination of a cruiser and a carrier. In the Soviet Navy this class of ships was specifically designated as a heavy aviation cruiser rather than just an aircraft carrier. Although the ships were designed with a large island superstructure to starboard, with an angled flight deck2/3rds of the length of the total deck, and the foredeck was taken up with the heavy surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missile armament. The intended mission of the Kiev class was support for strategic missile submarines, other surface ships and naval aviation; it was capable of engaging in anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and surface warfare.
The impetus behind the development of an aviation capability by the Soviet Navy was provided by the entry into service of the US Navy’s Polaris missile submarines. The two Moskva class helicopter carriers were completed in the late 1960s, but they were fairly limited and notoriously unreliable. Work on an improved helicopter carrier began in 1967. The Project 1143 vessels, which were known in the USSR as much larger than the Moskva class.
The new carriers were built at the Chernomorsky yard at Nikolayev on the Black Sea. The 44 000 ton Kiev was the first of the class. It passed through the Bosporus on 18 July 1976, to international protests about possible infractions of the Montreux Convention. Three more ships were later built in this class; Minsk, Novorossiysk and Baku (later renamed Admiral Gorshkov). Because of improvements which included a phased array radar, extensive electronic warfare installations, and an enlarger command and control suite, the Baku was sometimes considered a separate class. A fifth unit was approved in 1979, but not built.
A total of four Kiev class carriers were built and commissioned, serving in the Soviet and then Russian Navy. The first three were decommissioned, of which, one was scrapped and two were sold as recreational pieces to China. The fourth ship, Admiral Gorshkov, was sold to the Indian Navy in 2004, and after years of extensive modifications and refurbishment, is currently in active service.


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