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The 273 meter long Krechyet class aircraft carrier supports strategic missile submarines, surface ships, and naval aircraft of the Russian fleet. In compliance with the new ship classification system introduced in the Navy, these ships were categorized as heavy aircraft carrying cruisers. Krechyet class ships are capable of engaging in surface, antisubmarine, and anti-air warfare. With a 14,700 square meter flight deck, arrestor wires, and a bow ski-jump, the carrier airwing consists of 14 Yak-41M (Freestyle) vertical launched interceptors, 8 Yak 38 (Forger) attack aircraft, 10 Ka-27 PLO (Helix), 2 Ka-27 PS (Helix) search and rescue helicopters, and 4 Ka-27 RLD (Helix) helicopters. Two starboard elevators lift the aircraft from the hangar deck to the flight deck. Equipped with the Bazalt anti-ship missile system, the ship has 8 [or 12] surface-to-surface missile launchers. The Krechyet class air defense system consists of 24 reinforced Klinok vertical missile launchers and 192 anti-air missiles.
The Project 1143 ships were built at the Chernomorsky Plant. Each ship featured somewhat different arrangements. In the second unit, launched as the Minsk, the aircraft capacity was increased by 50% a changing the arrangement of aircraft on the hangar deck. During refits the flight deck edges were rounded and wind deflectors were fitted forward. The third and fourth units were authorized following the decision in 1973 not to proceed with the construction of the Orel-class full-deck carriers. They were designed to carry new-generation flying vehicles, such as Yak-36P (Yak-141) supersonic VTOL aircraft [subsequently cancelled ] and Ka-27 helicopters, in addition to Yak-38 airplanes and Ka-25 helicopters. The fourth unit of the Kiev-class, the Baku, is sometimes considered a separate class. Improvements included a phased array radar, extensive electronic warfare installations, and an enlarged command and control suite. The flight deck was extended forward approximately 5 meters over those of the first three ships. Other modifications included the addition of four additional SS-N-12 SLCM launchers (for a total of 12), the deletion of the SUW-N-1 launchers for nuclear armed FRAS-1 anti-ship/anti-submarine ballistic rockets, and deletion of the SA-N-3 surface-to-air missile, and 10 21-inch torpedo tubes. The ship is equipped with an Udav-1 integrated anti-submarine warfare system with 60 anti-submarine rockets.
The 38,000 ton Kiev was the prototype of the second class of Soviet carrier. The Kiev passed the Turkish Straits on 18 July 1976, to international protests about possible infractions of the Montreaux Convention. Three more ships were later built in this class; Minsk, Baku (later renamed Admiral Gorshkov) and Novorossiysk; all three subsequently transited the Straits. A fifth unit of the class was approved in 1979, but not built.
In August 2000 it was reported that a shipyard in the Tianjin, China bought the retired aircraft carrier Kiev from Russia. The Kiev, which served in the Russian navy from 1975 to 1994, was said to be heading from Shanghai to Tianjin. China and Russia made the 70 million yuan (HK$66 million) deal in January 2000, but the buyer had not yet decided on its usage.
Negotiations between Russia and India began in 1994 for the sale of the Admiral Gorshkov, which had been inactive since 1991. On 11 January 1999 Indian Minister of Defense George Fernandes acknowledged that agreement had been reached on the sale. The Gorshkov reportedly will be extensively modified at a cost of between $500-650 million to accommodate conventional take-off and landing aircraft [possibly either the Su-27K Flanker-D or the smaller MiG-29K Fulcrum-D]. The refit would include addition of a bow ski-jump take-off ramp, and removal of the missile launchers to make room for the ramp. The refit at Severodvinsk was expected to take up to three years.
Production of the Yak-38 Forger began in 1975 making it the world’s second operational VSTOL aircraft, after the Harrier series. The aircraft's wings are mid-mounted, delta-shaped with blunt tips and a negative slant. There is one turbo engine and two lift jets. There are two exhausts on the bottom of the rear fuselage. Large, semicircular air intakes are below the cockpit well forward of the wings. The fuselage is long and has a pointed nose and tapered tail section. The Yak-38 has a bubble canopy. The tail is swept-back and the tail fin is tapered with a square angular tip and a small step in the leading edge. Flats are mid-mounted on the body, swept-back, and tapered with a negative slant.
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