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Project 1144 Orlan class

NATO: Kirov class


Project 1144 Orlan class

Soviet navy Project 1144 Orlan class cruiser Frunze (renamed Admiral Lazarev in 1992) seen at sea in 1986.
Source: US DoD - © Public domain

Soviet Union
Entered service
In service
1968 - Early 1970's
Soviet Union
1974 - 1998
Soviet Union - Baltiysky Zavod, Leningrad
Russia - Baltiysky Zavod, St. Petersburg
Unit cost
Extremely expensive
Number produced
Kirov class (NATO reporting name)
Russian for "sea eagle"
Notable users
Soviet Union



The Project 1144 Orlan is a late Cold War era class of cruiser of Soviet origin. The name Kirov is the Western designation for the Project 1144 Orlan (Sea Eagle). This is the largest class of missile cruiser ever developed. This was due to ever increasing demands for armament and sensors for all domains: surface warfare, aera air defense and anti-submarine warfare. In Russia this type of ship is referred to as a heavy nuclear powered missile cruiser. Due to its size and displacement the Project 1144 class is sometimes referred to as a battlecruiser.


The Kirov class was the first Russian nuclear power surface warship. The size and displacement are enormous. Unlike World War 2 era cruisers large guns do not make up the main armament. The Kirov class is a cruiser riddled with various kinds of missiles. The majority of the missiles are mounted at the front deck. The forward superstructure houses the bridge, funnel, main mast and many sensors and systems. The rear superstructure has a smaller mast and various other sensors. The hangar and helicopter deck are at the rear. Uniquely some internal compartments feature armor plating, ranging from 35 mm to 80 mm thickness.


The main mast houses the huge MR-800 Voskhod (NATO: Top Pair) long range 3D air search radar system with a range up to 200 nm. The rear mast houses the large MR-750 Fregat-M (NATO: Top Plate) 3D air and surface search radar. Additionally a wide variety of fire control radars and optronic systems are fitted for the various SAM systems and guns. Sonar includes a very powerful hull mounted low frequency sonar used in conjunction with a towed array sonar. Countermeasures include two chaff launchers, a towed torpedo decoy and various ESM and ECM systems.


Each of the four Project 1144 Orlan cruisers features a similar yet distinct armament suite as newer weapon systems became available during construction. The main armament are the 20 P-700 Granit (NATO: SS-N-19 Shipwreck) long range supersonic sea skimming anti-ship missiles. Additionally a single 130mm AK-130 twin gun turret can be used against surface targets. The capable air defense systems include 12 vertical launcher systems for the long range S-300F Fort (NATO: SA-N-6) surface to air missiles. Short range air defense comprises of either Osa (NATO: SA-N-4) or Kinzhal (NATO: SA-N-11) SAM systems. Eight AK-630 or six Kortik close-in weapon systems are fitted. The various anti-submarine and torpedo defense systems include a long range UDAV-1 and two smaller RBU-1000 mortar systems. Two quintuple 533mm torpedo tubes can launch SET-65 ASW torpedoes and Vodopad-NK torpedo carrying missiles. The three Ka-27 helicopters can also be used for anti-submarine warfare.


The Project 1144 Orlan cruisers use a combined nuclear and steam propulsion to power two shafts. The main power supply consists of two KN-3 nuclear reactors. Additionally there are two oil fired boilers and two gas turbines. This combination of propulsion systems provides a superheat capability with increased power. The maximum speed is 30 knots and its range is 14.000 nm at 30 knots.


Five Project 1144 Orlan cruisers were planned, with only four completed over a protracted design and construction phase that spans nearly three decades. The exact costs of these cruiser are unknown, but cannot be cost effective. Nonetheless, these cruisers are impressive and feature a potent range of armament. Currently the first two of this class are decommissioned and laid up for scrapping. The third ship in class was mothballed in 1999 and is being modernized since 2015 for re-entering service in 2024 or beyond. The fourth ship is now the only active vessel of this class.


1st in class: Admiral Ushakov

The Admiral Ushakov (named Kirov until 1992) was the first in class and was commissioned in 1980. This hull is unique as it is the only ship in class to be built to the original Project 1144 design. Clear external differences include the two single 100mm AK-100 dual purpose guns at the rear and MS-82 twin tube launcher with Metel anti-submarine warfare missiles on the bow.

2nd in class: Admiral Lazarev

The Admiral Lazarev (named Frunze until 1992) was the second in class and was commissioned in 1984. This is the first ship in class built to the improved Project 1144.2 design. This is a transitional design that replaced the two 100mm gun turrets with a single twin barrel 130mm AK-130. The Metel on the bow was removed, with Vodopad-NK to be launched from the torpedo tubes. It still retains the older AK-630 CIWS, Osa-M point defense SAM and RBU-6000 ASW launcher.

3rd in class: Admiral Nakhimov

The Admiral Nakhimov (named Kalinin until 1992) is the third ship in class and was commissioned in 1988. Although built to the same Project 1144.2 class it featured and improved MR-750 Fregat-MA radar, UDAV-1 anti-torpedo system and Osa-MA point defense SAM system. Reportedly Kinzhal was installed in the 1990's. Nakhimov was mothballed in 1999 due to the excessive operating costs. Deep modernization started in 2015 with intended service date slipping to 2024 and likely to be postponed further.

4th in class: Pyotr Velikiy

The Pyotr Velikiy (named Yuri Andropov when laid down) is the fourth ship in class. Commissioned in 1998 this is the only ship in this class that is currently operational. It features the same updates ad the Nakhimov, but the obsolete Osa system was never installed. Air defense was updated by fitting a 30N6 fire control radar and updating some of the vertical launch systems to hold the physically longer and longer range 48N6 surface to air missiles.


Facts Ushakov (ex-Kirov) Lazarev (ex-Frunze) Nakhimov (ex-Kalinin) Pyotr Veliky
Soviet Union
760 including 120 officers
25.860 t full load
23.750 t standard
250.1 m overall
230 m at waterline
28.5 m overall
25 m at waterline
7.8 m hull
10.3 m maximum
58 m
Two nuclear reactors with individual oil fired boiler, turbine and shaft
2x KN-3 nuclear reactor with KVG-2 boiler and GTZA-653 steam turbine
Power output
2x 150 MW reactors
Combined 140.000 shp for propulsion
Two shafts, fixed pitch 5-blade propellers
31 knots boost
18 knots cruise on nuclear propulsion
Unlimited on nuclear propulsion
14.000 nm at 30 knots using boilers
60 days
Air search radar
1x MR-800 Voskhod
Air/surface search
1x MR-700 Fregat-M
Fire control radar
2x 3R41 Volna (for S-300F)
Fire control radar
2x 4R33 (for Osa-M)
Fire control radar
1x MR-114 Lev-214 (for AK-100)
Fire control radar
4x MR-123 Vympel (for AK-630)
MGK-355 Polinom (hull mounted)
Platina (variable depth sonar)
2x MG-7 Braslet (for MRG-1)
2x Vaygach
Combat data system
Fire control system
Purga (for RBU-6000, RBU-1000)
ESM system
MR-150 Gurzuf-A & MR-152 Gurzuf-B
ESM system
MR-262 Ograda & MRP-52 Koltco
2x PK-2M chaff/flare launcher with 400 munitions
Towed torpedo decoy
SATCOM, OTH datalink
4x 3000 kW steam electric turbines
4x 1500 kW GTG-1500-2 gas electric turbines
Dual purpose
2x1 100mm AK-100 with 2.000 shells in total
8x 30mm AK-630M
Saluting gun
2x 45mm 21-KM
20x P-700 Granit in SM-233 vertical launch system
Long range
2x S-300F Fort with 12x B-203 launcher for 96 5V55RM missiles in total
Short range
2x M-4 Osa-M with 40 missiles in total
ASW launcher
1x 2-tube MS-82 launcher for 10x RPK-3 Metel missile with ASW payload
ASW launcher
1x 12-tube RBU-6000 Smerch-2 with 122 rounds in total
ASW launcher
2x 6-tube RBU-1000 Smerch-3 with 72 round in total
2x 7-tube MRG-1 Ogonyok
Torpedo tubes
2x5 533mm PTA-53-1144
Torpedo types
SET-65 ASW torpedo
Single landing pad, below deck hangar with elevator
Supported types
2x Ka-27PL plus 1x Ka-25RT



P-700 Granit

20x P-700 Granit (NATO: SS-N-19 Shipwreck) supersonic anti-ship missile. On all ships in class.

S-300F Fort

2x S-300F Fort naval SAM system. On all ships in class.

S-300FM Fort-M

1x S-300FM Fort-M replacing a S-300F on third ship in class.

M-4 Osa-M

2x M-4 Osa-M or Osa-MA point defense SAM system. On first 3 ships in class.

3K95 Kinzhal

2x Kinzhal point defense SAM system on 4th ship in class.

100mm AK-100

2x1 100mm AK-100 dual purpose gun, only on lead ship in class.

130mm AK-130

1x2 130mm AK-130 dual purpose gun. On all but first of class.

30mm AK-630

8x 30mm AK-630 close-in weapon system. On first two ships in class.

30mm Kortik

6x 30mm Kortik close-in weapon system. On last two ships in class.

RBU-6000 Smerch-2

1x 12-barrel RBU-6000 depth charge launcher. On first two ships in class.


1x 10-barrel UDAV-1 anti-torpedo depth charge launcher. On last two ships in class.

RBU-1000 Smerch-3

2x 6-barrel RBU-1000 depth charge launcher. On all ships in class.


2x5 PTA-53-1144 quintuple 533mm torpedo launchers. With SET-65 and RPK-6 Vodopad-NK anti-submarine torpedoes. On all ships in class.

Kamov Ka-27PL

Three Ka-25 or two Ka-27 naval helicopters can be carried. The Ka-27PL is intended for anti-submarine warfare.

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