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Project 1144.2 Orlan
Kirov class
Guided Missile Cruiser (Nuclear Powered)

In December 2011 it was reported that the Russian Defense Ministry was planning to refit the Admiral Nakhimov, Admiral Lazarev and Admiral Ushakov missile cruisers by 2020 in a major boost for the Russian Navy's combat strength. The Admiral Ushakov, which has been docked at the Zvezdochka shipyard in Severodvinsk, has not been determined. Russia built four Kirov class nuclear-powered cruisers in 1974-1998. One of them, the Pyotr Veliky, is still in active service as the flagship of the Northern Fleet.

The Russian Kirov Class Heavy Missile Cruise Ship are the world's largest 'cruisers' and might best be termed "battle cruisers". Originally designed as a large antisubmarine warship to search for and engage enemy ballistic missile submarines, the Kirov's role was expanded to engage large surface targets and provide air and antisubmarine protection to naval forces after the introduction of the Granit antiship missile system. There are substantial differences in the equipment of each unit of this class.

The ship is armed with the Granit long range anti-ship missile system, known in the West as the Shipwreck missile. Twenty Granit antiship missiles are installed under the upper deck, mounted at a 60 degree elevation. The long-range missiles cannot be controlled once launched, but do have a multivariant target engagement program. When ripple-fired the missiles share information while in-flight. The lead missile assumes a high-level flight trajectory enabling it to increase its target acquisition capacity, while the other missiles follow at a lower level. If the lead missile is destroyed, one of the other missiles will automatically assume the lead role.

An S-300F Air Defence Missile Complex is installed on the ship, with 12 launchers and 96 vertical launch air defence missiles. The S-300F is capable of engaging both air and surface targets. The ship has two Osa-Ma double launchers and 40 air defence missiles. In addition to 16 long-range antiship cruise missile, this gas-turbine-powered vessel carries 64 vertically launched SA-N-6 SAMs and 40 short-range SA-N-4 missiles, plus guns, torpedoes, ASW rocket launchers, and a helicopter.

The ship is also fitted with a 130 mm AK-130 multipurpose two barrel gun. The ship's 30 mm artillery system is the AK-630 used to engage airborne targets including sea skimming anti-ship missiles, small sea vessels, floating mines and light armoured land based targets. The ship accommodates three Kamov Ka-27PL or Ka-25RT helicopters. The ship has ten missile or torpedo tubes with 20 Vodopad-NK anti-submarine missiles or torpedoes. The ship has two anti-submarine and anti-torpedo rocket systems, the Udav-1 with 40 anti-submarine rockets and the RBU-1000. The ship has two RBU-1000 six-tube anti-submarine rocket launchers, with 102 rockets.

The ship's propulsion system is based on a combination of nuclear power and steam turbine, with two [four according to some sources] nuclear reactors and two auxiliary boilers. The propulsion system provides a full speed of 31 knots. When operating on the auxiliary boilers the ship's speed is 14 knots and the ship has an endurance of 60 days. The selection of the machinery was determined by the role of the cruiser and its assigned missions.

The automated main nuclear machinery comprises two reactors (to produce steam for operation), two main geared-turbine units developing 70,000 hp each (to ensure full cruiser speed of at least 30 knots) and two stand-by steam boilers of 115 t/h capacity. The stand-by steam boilers provide for development of 17 knots with nuclear reactors shut-off and ensure an operation range of up to 1,000 miles with shipborne fuel. The main machinery is arranged in three compartments: one compartment houses two nuclear reactors, the two others house geared-turbine units and steam boilers, respectively.

Construction of a ?fth Kirov-class nuclear-powered cruiser, begun at the Baltic shipyard in Leningrad in mid-1989, was halted later in the year, and a merchant ship was begun in its place. The Kirov program had been a Gorhkov favorite that had been pushed through against the advice of the Main Naval Staff and General Staff. According to Admiral Ivan Kapitants, the original concept of operations had been that two Kirovs would operate with each carrier as part of powerful task forces.

The early 1980s witnessed the introduction of more technologically advanced classes of most powerful surface ships into the Soviet Navy inventory, including the first Soviet nuclear-powered surface warship, the KIROV guided-missile Destroyers/Frigates cruiser, and the first of a class of gas-turbine, the SLAVA.

Prior to the Kirov cancellation in 1989, the only clear indications that Gorbachcv‘s program of unilateral cutbacks had affected the siZe of the Navy had been personnel reductions and the accelerated retirement of older units. The Kirov decision, however, con?rmed that Gorbachcv's resource constraints, especially the policy of converting shipyard resources to civilian production, are cutting into the Navy's new construction programs. it also indicated that a program's momentum in the form of sunk costs was not enough to ensure its continuation.

It is of interest that, aside from exercises just off the Russian coast, by 2004 it was the same five ships that made long-distance cruises: the two Udaloys destroyers from Vladivostok (Admiral Panteleyev and Marshal Shaposhnikov), and the Slava-class cruiser Moskva, the Krivak-class frigate Pytliivy, and the last of the Kashin-class destroyers, Smetliviy, from the Black Sea Fleet. All five are gas turbine-powered ships.

The Russian Navy confirmed on 09 September 2008 that a fleet of warships belonging to the Russian Northern Fleet was preparing to cross the Atlantic Ocean and head for the Caribbean. Washington immediately responded by mocking the Russian move, which is widely considered a response to NATO's increased naval presence in the Black Sea. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack jokingly said that if Russia really intended to send ships to the Caribbean, "then they found a few ships that can make it that far."

The squadron, led by the Northern Fleet's flagship nuclear-powered Kirov-class battlecruiser Pyotr Veliky (named after Peter the Great, Czar Peter I of Russia) - one of the world's largest heavily-armed nuclear-powered guided missile cruisers - will participate with the Venezuelan fleet in the Caribbean naval exercise in November 2008. During the joint exercises, the Russian navy is expected to deploy Moscow's most modern destroyer, the Udaloy-class Admiral Chabanenko anti-submarine destroyer, a rescue vessel and a tanker ship. This will be Russia's first maneuver in the US backyard in nearly 20 years. The naval exercise will be conducted in Venezuelan waters between the 10th and 14th of November. The Russian and Venezuelan Navy will together perform dry runs of relief operations and test their tactical communication systems.

The official Russian governmental news service Russia Today stated that "The fact that the Russian cruiser was not designed as an instrument of attack, but instead for nuclear containment and defending nuclear submarines, this exercise looks more like an invitation to a dialogue with America rather than a military threat. Moreover, the fact that the American presidential campaign has entered its final stage, it is expected that both candidates Barack Obama and John McCain are going to exploit this naval exercise to their own benefit, verbalizing on the "return of the Russian threat". This rhetoric may become the decisive factor for one of them to make the White House his home for the next four years."

Russia announced in 2007 that its Navy had resumed, and would build up, its constant presence in different regions of the world's oceans. A naval task force from Russia's Northern Fleet, consisting of the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, the Udaloy-Class destroyers Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko, as well as auxiliary vessels, conducted from December 2007 to February 2008 a two-month tour of duty in the Mediterranean Sea and North Atlantic.

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