Kiev Class Heavy Aircraft Carriers (Project 1143 Krechet)

Operators:

In the 1960s, as the Soviet Navy commissioned the Project 1123 Condor (NATO name: Moskva class) helicopter carriers, they also worked on developing ships to address the shortcomings and gaps in the Moskva class. The entry of the U.S. Kitty Hawk class aircraft carriers into service prompted the Soviet Union to consider building vessels equivalent to American ships.

(103) Baku – Amiral Gorshkov – Heavy Aircraft Carriers

Due to the 1936 Montreux Convention, which prohibited aircraft carriers from transiting the Turkish straits, the new ship was referred to as a “submarine defense cruiser” and was heavily armed, quite different from American carriers. (Later, they were referred to as heavy aircraft carrying cruisers – TAKR.) While American aircraft carriers typically aimed to establish air superiority in a specific region with their aircraft, the Project 1143 Krechet (NATO name: Kiev) class heavy aircraft carrying cruisers were designed to perform a wide range of missions.

Mission Types of Project 1143 Krechet (Kiev Class)
Air defence
Anti-submarine warfare
Surface warfare
Amphibious operations
(121) Kiev Heavy Aircraft Carriers

These ships accommodated fixed-wing, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) combat aircraft, anti-submarine warfare helicopters, air defense missile systems, supersonic anti-ship missiles, and anti-submarine warfare rockets. The armament varied between ships.

(042) Minsk Heavy Aircraft Carriers

The construction of the first ship of the class, (121) Kiev, began in July 1970, and it was commissioned in December 1975. Following that, (042) Minsk’s construction started in December 1972, and it was commissioned in September 1978. In September 1975, (137) Novorossiysk’s construction commenced, and it entered service in September 1982. The last ship, (103) Baku, later renamed Amiral Gorshkov in 1991, began its construction in February 1978 and was commissioned in December 1987. Kiev and Baku served in the Northern Fleet, while Minsk and Novorossiysk served in the Pacific Fleet. The ships’ hull numbers changed over time.

(137) Novorossiysk Heavy Aircraft Carriers

The Kiev class ships generally provided good service throughout their operational lifetimes. However, the weakest aspect of these ships was their air wing. The Yak-38 VTOL combat aircraft stationed on the ships had several shortcomings and flaws, notably their limited payload capacity (2 tons) and a range of approximately 200 km when fully loaded. Additionally, these aircraft could not fire long-range anti-ship missiles, and their air combat capabilities were considerably inferior to their counterpart, the Harrier. From 1977, when the Yak-38 became operational, 231 units were produced, and by the time they were retired in 1991, 41 aircraft (21%) were lost due to accidents.

Yakolev Yak-38 VTOL Fighter Aircraft

In addition to the air wing, the high superstructure (island) limited flight operations. The storage of ammunition for the front-facing weapons and aircraft fuel in close proximity was another constraint.

(137) Novorossiysk Heavy Aircraft Carriers

Following the economic turmoil that accompanied the collapse of the Soviet Union, the large vessels of the Soviet Navy were not adequately maintained, and the first three ships of the class were decommissioned on June 30, 1993. In 1994, (121) Kiev was purchased by China to be displayed in an entertainment park, later converted into a luxury hotel. In 1995, (042) Minsk was sold to China for display as a museum ship. (137) Novorossiysk was scrapped in South Korea in 1997.

Compared to the other ships, (103) Amiral Gorshkov remained in service for a while longer before being retired in 1996. In 2004, it was purchased by India to be converted into an aircraft carrier. After significant modifications and modernization in Russia, the ship entered service with the Indian Navy as INS Vikramaditya in 2014.

 (R-33) INS Vikramaditya Aircraft Carrier
Project 1143 Krechet (Kiev Class) Heavy Aircraft Carriers
1(121) Kiev (Entered service on December 28, 1975 – Retired on June 30, 1993)
2(042) Minsk (Entered service on September 28, 1978 – Retired on June 30, 1993)
3(137) Novorossiysk (Entered service on September 14, 1982 – Retired on June 30, 1993)
4(103) Baku – Renamed Amiral Gorshkov in 1991 (Entered service on December 11, 1987 – Retired in 1996)
Project 1143 Krechet (Kiev Class) Heavy Aircraft Carriers
Specifications of Project 1143 Krechet (Kiev Class) Heavy Aircraft Carriers
BuildersChernomorsky Shipyard 444
Active1
Retired3
Length273.1 m
Width49.2 m
Draft8.95 m
Displacement41,370 tons fully loaded
Speed30 knots
CrewApproximately 2,000
Range18 knots at 8,000 nautical miles
Propulsion System4x 45,000 hp TV-12-3 steam turbines, 6x 1500 kW generators, 4x 1500 kW diesel generators
Aircraft12x Yak-38 VTOL combat aircraft, 20x Ka-25/Ka-27 helicopters
Endurance30-45 days without supply
(103) Baku Heavy Aircraft Carriers
Weapon Systems on Project 1143 Krechet (Kiev Class) Heavy Aircraft Carriers
Kiev and Minsk:
Anti-Ship Missiles4x twin (500 km range) P-500 supersonic cruise missiles (8 missiles)
Air Defence Systems2x twin (30 km range) M-11 Shtorm air defense missiles (72 missiles)
2x twin (15 km range) 9K33 OSA air defense missiles (40 missiles)
CIWS (Close In Weapon System)2x twin AK-726 dual-barrel guns
8x AK-630 CIWS systems
Anti-Submarine Warfare Systems2x twin SUW-N-1 anti-submarine warfare rockets (16 rockets)
2x quintuple PTA-53-1143 533mm torpedo launchers
2x decuple RBU-12000 anti-submarine warfare rocket launchers
Novorossiysk:
Anti-Ship Missiles4x twin (500 km range) P-500 supersonic cruise missiles (8 missiles)
Air Defence Systems2x twin (30 km range) M-11 Shtorm air defense missiles (72 missiles)
CIWS (Close In Weapon System)2x twin AK-726 dual-barrel guns
8x AK-630 CIWS systems
Anti-Submarine Warfare Systems2x twin SUW-N-1 anti-submarine warfare rockets (16 rockets)
Baku (Amiral Gorshkov):
Anti-Ship Missiles6x twin (500 km range) P-500 supersonic cruise missiles (12 missiles)
Air Defence Systems24x octuple (12 km range) M-11 Shtorm air defence missiles (192 missiles)
CIWS (Close In Weapon System)8x AK-630 CIWS systems
Main Gun2x single AK-100 guns
Anti-Submarine Warfare Systems2x quintuple PTA-53-1143 533mm torpedo launchers
2x decuple RBU-12000 anti-submarine warfare rocket launchers
(121) Kiev Heavy Aircraft Carriers

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