Ships / Aircraft carriers / Project 1143.5 Orel (Kuznetsov) class

Project 1143.5 Orel (Kuznetsov) class

General Facts

  • TYPE
    Aircraft carrier


    Project 1143.5 Orel

    Late 1970's


    1982 - 1990

    USSR - Shipyard No. 444 in Mykolaiv

    1, second 75% complete but never finished


    Powerful anti-ship armament
    Good speed
    Good self-defense systems
    Mobility issues


The Kuznetsov class is an aircraft carrier of Soviet origin. It was developed in the late 1970's to replace or complement the older Kiev class. In Russia it is also known as the Project 1143.5 Orel class. Although externally similar to Western aircraft carriers the Kuznetsov actually is an aircraft carrying cruiser. The significant amount of weapon systems on the Kuznetsov is an unique feature.


The Kuznetsov has the same general layout as US aircraft carriers as it has the superstructure on the far right, hangars below the deck, launch deck at the front and an offset landing deck across the ship. However the hull design was derived from the older Kiev class and compared to US designs the Kuznetsov class has a much smaller displacement. The aircraft are launched at the front of the landing deck, which is angled as a sort of ski jump. The aircraft land using arrestor hooks to catch wires on the landing deck at the rear.


The main armament of the Kuznetsov consists of 12 huge SS-N-19 long range supersonic anti-ship missiles. Air defense consists of four banks of six launchers for the short range SA-N-9 surface to air missile. The Kuznetsov also has an enormous self defense capability as it is fitted with 8 CADS-N-1 and 6 AK-630 CIWS systems. Additionally the aircraft carried on the Kutznetsov posess serious firepower. The Kuznetsov air wing consists of Su-33 air superiority fighters, Su-25UTG training aircraft and Ka-27 and Ka-31 helicopters. The fighter aircraft are used to engage air targets and the helicopters serve in the anti-submarine role.


The Kuznetsov is fitted with a wide variety of sensors that include air search, suface search and fire control radars and sonar systems. The Kuznetsov also serves as an air traffic control center and is equipped with a TACAN system. Countermeasures consist of various chaff launchers and ESM and ECM systems.


Unlike most navy ships with such a high displacement the Kuznetsov has no nuclear propulsion. A total of 8 boilers and 4 turbines are fitted that deliver 200.000 hp to 4 shafts. The maximum speed is 30 knots and the range is 8.500 nm at 18 knots.


The user of the single operetional Kuznetsov was the Soviet navy. Since the breakup of the USSR it has been in service with the Russian navy. The second ship of the Kuznetsov class that was completed about 70 to 80 percent was sold to China in 2002.


Kuznetsov class

The Kuznetsov is an aircraft carrying cruiser. It is the most modern and only aircraft carrier in Russian service. Originally the air wing was to consist of 16 Yak-141 ground attack fighters, 12 Su-33 air superiority fighters, 18 Ka-27 ASW helicopters and 2 Ka-31 AEW helicopters. Due to the cancellation of the Yak-141 this changed to 18 Su-33, 5 Su-25UTG, 15 Ka-27 and 2 Ka-31.

TypeAircraft carrier
Crew1.960 incl 200 officers, plus 626 aircrew and 40 flag staff
Displacement45.900 t standard, 58.500 t full load
Length304.5 m overall, 280 m waterline
Width70 m overall, 37 m waterline
Draught10.5 m
Machinery8x boiler, 4x turbine, 200.000 hp
Propulsion4 shafts
Speed30 kt
Range3.850 nm at 29 kt, 8.500 nm 18 kt
SensorsAir search: Sky Watch
Air/surface search: Top Plate B
Surface search: 2x Strut Pair
Navigation: 3x Palm Frond
Sonar: Bull Horn, Horse Jaw
SystemsFire control: 4x Cross Sword for SA-N-9, Fire Control: 8x Hot Flash
Data: Aircraft control: 2x Fly Trap B
Tacan: Cake Stand
Countermeasures10x PK-10 chaff, 2x PK-2
Aircraft18x Su-33, 5x Su-25UTG, 15x Ka-27, 2x Ka-31
WeaponsSSM: 12x SS-N-19
SAM: 24x8 SA-N-11
CIWS: 6x AK-630
ASW: 2x RBU-12000
Weapon1SS-N-19 Shipwreck anti-ship missile
12 round launcher in launch deck
12 missiles, all ready to fire
Weapon2SA-N-11 Gauntlet SAM system
24 eight round launchers at front and read
192 missiles, all ready to fire
Weapon3CADS-N-1 CIWS with SA-N-11 missiles
Eight mounts at front and back
Weapon4CADS-N-1 CIWS with SA-N-11 missiles
Eight mounts at front and back
Weapon5RBU-12000 ASW mortars, Two launchers at rear of ship

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