Launched in 1985 but fully operational 10 years later, the Admiral Kuznetsov is the only aircraft carrier in the Russian Navy. Under the name Project 1143.5 or Orel Class, the Kuznetsov was constructed at Nikolayev South Shipyard on the Black Sea in the Ukraine. Construction began September 1st 1982 and the ship was laid down in 1983. Only 71% was completed and by summer 1989 the ship undergo major maintenance and refits to return to the Northern Fleet.
A second vessel of the Kuznetsov Class heavy aircraft carrier was launched in 1988, the Varyag. It was never commissioned by the Soviet Navy and it was later sold to the People’s Republic of China by the Ukraine. Under the agreement the Varyag was never to be fitted for combat.
Unlike western aircraft carriers, the Kuznetsov is not fitted with a catapult system. It relies on a ski-jump at the end of the deck angled at 12° to send the planes in the air. The aircraft take off with a light payload of air-to-air missiles and leave the deck at a speed greater than stall speed at a high angle of attack. The lack of a catapult launch system greatly limits the payload of carrier based aircraft, a fully loaded aircraft not being able to accelerate above stall speed.
On board the Admiral Kuznetsov the following aircraft are available:
- 12 Sukhoi Su-33s
- 5 Sukhoi Su-25 UTG/UBP
- 4 Kamov Ka-27LD32
- 18 Kamov Ka-27PLO
- 2 Kamov Ka-27S.
Flagship Staff 40
Length 302.3 m
Length at waterline 270 m
Beam 72.3 m
Beam at waterline 35.4 m
Draft 9.14 m
Standard displacement 43,000 tons
Full load displacement 55,000 tons
Maximum displacement 58,600 tons
2 Steam turbine of 50,000 horsepower each
4 fixed pitch propellers
9 Turbogenerators of 1,500 kW each
2 Diesel Generators of 50,000 horsepower each
Full speed 29 knots
Range at maximum speed 3,850 miles at 29 knots
Maximum range speed 18 knots
Maximum range 8,500 miles at 18 knots
Endurance 45 days