Russia’s Super Strange Kiev Class Aircraft Carriers Submarine And Carrier K!ller



Russia’s Super Strange Kiev Class Aircraft Carriers Submarine And Carrier K!ller.

At the tail end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union produced a number of unique aircraft carriers. Known as the Kiev class, the carriers were the Soviets’ initial foray into the world of fixed wing naval aviation, and the only Soviet carriers to become fully operational. The story of the Kiev carriers is also the story of a land power forging a path to become a naval power, seeking to realize a fleet that could challenge the mighty U.S. Navy.

The Kiev-class aircraft carriers had their origins in the tenure of Admiral Sergei Gorshkov. Appointed by Nikita Khrushchev to the position of Commander in Chief of the Soviet Navy in 1956, Gorshkov served in that position for a remarkable twenty-nine years. He oversaw the expansion of the Soviet Navy from a strategically insignificant force in the years after World War II to a well-balanced one that could project power into the Third World, a problem that became obvious during the Cuban M!ssile Crisis when the Soviet Navy had no long-range striking forces it could send to meet the U.S. naval blockade of Cuba.

The Kiev-class carriers were the result.

While Gorshkov devoted a huge amount of the Soviet Navy’s construction budget into submarines, particularly ballistic m!ssile submarines, he wanted a balanced force capable of projecting power overseas. Faced with the imminent deployment of longer range submarine-launched Trident C-3 m!ssiles, the Soviet Navy would have to operate even farther from the Eurasian continent in order to counter them. This would pitch the Soviet Navy directly against the carrier task forces of the U.S. Navy.

At the same time more countries were falling into the Soviet orbit, providing the USSR with port facilities. Cuba in the Western Hemisphere, Vietnam in Asia, Angola in Africa, Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Libya in the Middle East, and Ethiopia and Somalia in the Horn of Africa all provided anchorages for the Soviet Navy to visit and demonstrate fraternal socialism. If the Soviet Union wanted to keep and even expand a network of overseas allies, it would need a naval force, complete with capital ships, capable of visiting such allies and engaging in visible shows of support.

The four Kiev-class carriers were part of a major shipbuilding effort designed to fulfill both sets of tasks.

In 1975, Kiev appeared, followed by her sister ships Minsk (1978), Novorossiysk (1982), and Baku (1987). All four were built at the Nikolayev South Shipyards in Ukraine, the Soviet Union’s only constructor of large surface warships. Like the Moskva class before them, the vessels were a mix of ship types, with the front half resembling a guided m!ssile cruiser and the remainder of the ship resembling an aircraft carrier. At 899 feet, the ships were approximately 85 percent as long as the U.S. Navy’s new Nimitz-class carriers.

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By: Kyle Mizokami

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