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NAME

KUZNETSOV

CLASS

AIRCRAFT CARRIER

ENT/SERVICE

JANUARY 21st 1991

BUILT

NIKOLAYEV / SOUTH UKRAINE / SOVIET UNION

WEIGHT

53,000 TONS

LENGTH

1,005 FEET

WIDTH

121 FEET - FLIGHT DECK 237 FEET

SPEED

29 KNOTS

PROPELLERS

4

ENGINES

4 - STEAM TURBINES - 200,000 HP

AIRCRAFT

24 - SUKHOI / MIG & 18 HELICOPTERS


Kuznetsov was launched in 1985 at a time when countries of the Soviet Union were seeking independence. That time of uncertainty delayed her from entering service until 1991. Even after entering service, it took until 1995 for Kuznetzov to become fully operational. Her sister ship, Varyag launched in 1988, was never completed in the Soviet Union. With that carrier being berthed at Nikolayev when the Ukraine gained independence in 1991, a debate arose about who actually owned the ship. A Chinese agency eventually bought Varyag from the Ukraine in 1998 for 20 million US dollars. That sale led to her being towed to the Chinese naval base at Dalian in 2001. It was unclear what the Chinese wanted the ship for. Guesses were, they would complete Varyag for their own navy, study the design to allow them to build a carrier of their own, or as they stated when buying the ship, to be converted to a floating museum and casino. In 2011, images began appearing of Varyag after having undergone a refit and being tested as an aircraft carrier for the Chinese Navy.

Kuznetsov

Kuznetsov was the first Soviet aircraft carrier designed to operate conventional fixed wing aircraft. With her long flight deck and 12-degree ski jump, she can launch the large Sukhoi jets without the use of a catapult. Following Kusnetsov’s first deployment to the Mediterranean in December 1995, escalating propulsion problems led to her being put into Moskva to undergo repairs in November 1998. The completion of that work in 2000 saw her join the Russian Northern Fleet for exercises, and later that year, take part in the unsuccessful rescue attempt of Russian submariners from the stricken submarine Kursk. Kusnetsov’s next deployment was to lead a Russian taskforce during exercises in the Mediterranean in 2002.

Kuznetsov

The Soviet Union planned to build 80,000-ton nuclear powered carriers in 1973 that would carry 70 aircraft. These ships were designed to almost the same size as the largest US carriers. After the death of the defense minister Grechco, the new defense minister did not share his enthusiasm for large carriers. This led to the cancellation of the Orel class in favor of the smaller Kiev class. As the four 40,000-ton Kiev class carriers built were too small to carry the large soviet jets, the Yak-38 Forger vertical takeoff and landing jet was designed specially for these ships in the 1970s. The Yak-38 is similar to the British Harrier jump jet designed in the 1960s, although unlike the Harrier, it is claimed to be supersonics at altitude. The four Kiev class carriers were only planned as a stop-gap until a new larger carrier design was introduced. They could carry 12 Yak-38’s and 20 helicopters. Of the four Kiev class, Minsk was sold for scrap in 1993, Novorossiysk and Kiev were sold for scrap in 1994 and the decommissioned Gorshkov was sold to the Indian Navy in 2004 to be operated as their INS Vikramaditya.. This means that at the end of the 20th Century, Russia has only one aircraft carrier intended for future deployment.

Varyag
Varyag on tow to China in 2001 passing under the Bosporus bridge at Istanbul, Turkey, LargeImage.

Kiev
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