Friday, February 7, 2014

Russia Starts Upgrading Project 1144.2 Orlan (Kirov Class) Missile Cruisers

After some delay, Russia has begun upgrading the Admiral Nakhimov, one of its Project Missile 1144.2 Orlan (Kirov class) nuclear-powered guided missile cruisers at the Sevmash shipyard. There are a total of four Project 1144.2 cruisers:
  • the Admiral Ushakov, commissioned as the Kirov in 1980
  • the Admiral Lazarev, commissioned as the Frunze in 1984
  • the Admiral Nakhimov, commissioned as the Kalinin in 1988
  • the Pyotr Veliky, formerly the Yuri Andropov was commissioned in 1998
Of these four, only the Pyotr Veliky is currently in active service. All four are scheduled to undergo an extensive upgrade.

Although quite old, the Kirov class cruisers remain the most heavily armed ships in service and will continue to have this distinction after modernization is complete. Some of the changes to be made include:
  • Replacement of the P-700 Granit (SS-N-19 Shipwreck) with the P-800 Onyx (Oniks) long-range supersonic anti-ship missiles
  • Replacement of the naval S-300 with the S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile complex
  • Replacement of the AK-630 and Kashtan Close-In Weapon Systems with the Pantsir system
Work on the Admiral Nakhimov is expected to be complete by 2018.

Modernizing of the Kirov class was preceded by the modernization of the complementary Project 1164 Atlant (Slava class) missile cruisers. There are four Slava class cruisers:
  • the Moskva was commissioned in 1983 and is in service
  • the Marshall Ustinov was commissioned in 1986 and currently being upgraded
  • the Varyag was commissioned in 1989 and is in service
  • the Ukrayina was never completed and is still in the Ukraine
Interestingly, Russia used both Slava cruisers, the Moskva and Varyag, to project power and defend its interests last year in 2013 during the crisis in Syria. This experience can only have reinforced the conviction that there is still a role for the Slava and Kirov class cruisers to make upgrading them worthwhile.

Russia also expects to receive the first of the six Project 636 (Kilo class) submarines it has on order for the Black Sea Fleet later this year. While Russia maintains an existing fleet of Kilo class submarines, it hasn't commissioned a new one since the early nineties.

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