:: KIROV CLASS BATTLECRUISERS (II) ::
Soviet/Russian aircraft carriers
Soviet/Russian cruisers and destroyers
American cruisers and destroyers
USS Long Beach
AK-130 twin 130-millimeter cannon
AK-100 100-millimeter cannon
AK-630 30-millimeter cannon
SS-N-19 surface-to-surface missile
SA-N-6 surface-to-air missile
SA-N-4 surface-to-air missile
RBU-1000 antisubmarine mortar
533-millimeter torpedo launcher
All the following pictures (except one) correspond to the Pyotr Velikiy (former Yury Andropov), fourth ship of the class, commissioned in April 1998 and as 2016 the only one of her class in active service. The description of the armament will explain piece per piece and how this one evolved since 1980.
Two exemplars of the AK-100 single mounting, fitted with one 100-millimeter water-cooled, dual-purpose and fully automatic cannon, were originally installed on the Kirov, but not on the successive ships of the class, which received instead one exemplar of the AK-130, first seen (around 1980) on the destroyers of the Sovremennyy class. The AK-100 has a maximum range of 21 kilometers for surface targets and 8 kilometers for aerial targets, being the rate of fire up to 80 rounds per minute.
The following photograph shows the AK-130 mounting onboard the Pyotr Velikiy, fitted with two water-cooled 130-millimeter cannons, which have a maximum range of 29 kilometers, a rate of fire of up to 45 rounds per minute each and a muzzle speed of about 1000 meters/second. The elevation arc goes from -10 to 85 degrees, same than in the AK-100. Artillery pieces are nowadays the less functional weapon systems in a warship, but they are useful against ships or slow aircraft that pose a low threat so valuable missiles can be saved.
A Close-in Weapon System (CIWS) is necessary as a last resort on the defense against incoming missiles, particularly of the "sea-skimming" type, and nowadays any modern warship is fitted with a CIWS. The cruisers of the Kirov class were originally equipped with the AK-630 (ADMG-630 in NATO designation), which consists of one six-barrel 30-millimeter Gatling cannon able to fire dozens of rounds per second. This cannon mounting, shown in the previous page of this article, is directed by a radar called "Bass Tilt" which resembles a searchlight and is installed more or less near the mounting it controls. The Kirov had eight AK-630 mountings but the following ships had only four, with the other four replaced by eight octuple launchers for the point-defense missile SA-N-8.
Later some of the AK-630 mountings were replaced by the hybrid CIWS known as Kashtan, which integrates in a single mounting two AK-630 cannons and two quadruple launchers for the surface-to-air missile SA-N-19. It is believed to be a very effective system associated as well to the fire control radar "Bass Tilt", but it has as well its own incorporated tracking radar and optronic control system. The cruisers of the Kirov class were the first ships that received this very sophisticated weapon system, introduced in 1989.
The following photograph shows in the foreground one of these Kashtan modules, with its two 30-millimeter cannons and integrated tracking radar; the missile launchers, which are to be installed above each cannon, are absent in this image. The radar mounting to the right directs the fire of the AK-130, whose raised cannons can be seen beyond.
The antiaircraft defense is entrusted to three missile systems. The first one is the short-range surface-to-air missile SA-N-8, fired from sixteen octuple launchers located eight at prow and eight astern (none installed in the original Kirov). These missiles serve as a point-defense system; since up to 128 missiles are carried, it would be theoretically possible to repel a saturation attack, however the array radars onboard the Kirov class are allegedly not very advanced. In the image below can be seen these launchers, which resemble a revolver drum, located astern onboard the Pyotr Velikiy.
Another system is the SA-N-4 "Gecko", which is fired from a retractable twin launcher that remains inside its cylindrical silo all the time and is only deployed during its utilization. The cruisers of the Kirov class have two of these launchers, which were standard equipment in most Soviet warships, placed next to the command bridge. The SA-N-4, of which 40 units are carried onboard, has a maximum range of 9000 meters and a limited capability against surface targets.
Finally, the SA-N-6 "Grumble" is a long-range surface-to-air missile with capabilities against high-altitude aircraft and missiles, as well as sea-skimming antiship missiles such as the Exocet, Tomahawk or Harpoon, which ideally could be intercepted several dozens of kilometers away from the ship. This missile is launched from twelve silos placed in the prow and a total of 96 units are carried.
The heaviest and most offensive armament carried in these cruisers is the large surface-to-surface cruise missile SS-N-19 "Shipwreck", stored in vertical launchers in the prow as well. These missiles have an operational range of up to 625 kilometers and can transport either a conventional or a nuclear warhead. It is no secret that these missiles were developed with the aim of neutralizing an American aircraft carrier with a single hit. However to penetrate inside a US Task Force would not be an easy enterprise. For achieving this these missiles include inertial navigation and radar-homing guidance for the terminal flight phase, with the more than probable mid-course correction.
It is believed that these missiles are sophisticated enough to "cooperate" between themselves if launched in salvos, with one of them assuming the "lead", this is, designating targets for the others. If the leading missile is destroyed, the next one in the sequence shall take the lead. The missiles should be able to differentiate single targets and groups, and to automatically create a list of priorities by "learning" about the targets during flight. Types of ships and battle formations should be pre-programmed in an onboard computer to achieve this. The missiles should have also their own self-defense tactics to evade antimissile defenses and electronic perturbations. This information is hypothetical however.
The following photograph shows the fore deck on the Kalinin and it is interesting because it shows up to five different weapon systems onboard. In the right edge of the image we can see one of the SA-N-4 spots. The large group of twenty hatches are the vertical launchers for the SS-N-19; there are no reloads possible for such large missiles so up to twenty are carried. Before these we can see the twelve hatches for the SA-N-6 (they are placed asymmetrically, eight to a side and four to the other). Flanking the zone we can see two Kashtan mountings. Finally, the two square structures in front of everything hide each four octuple SA-N-8 launchers (the original Kirov had in this place launchers for fourteen antisubmarine cruise missiles SS-N-14 "Silex").
The antisubmarine armament comprises one RBU-6000 antisubmarine rocket launcher installed in the prow, two RBU-1000 rocket launchers (not present in the original Kirov), two quintuple launchers for 533-millimeter torpedoes and three antisubmarine helicopters Kamov Ka-25 "Hormone-A" or two Ka-27 "Helix".
The antisubmarine rocket launchers used by the Soviet Navy serve primarily as a last resort in the defense against submarines or incoming torpedoes; we can say they are the equivalent of CIWS in antisubmarine warfare. They comprise several tube launchers whose rockets travel a certain distance (from some hundreds of meters to several kilometers) in a ballistic arc until striking the water; rapidly sinking, they detonate when reaching a certain depth or, less probably, on impact with the target.
In this photograph taken from the bridge on the Pyotr Velikiy we can see the RBU-6000 (or a similar system) firing. It can be seen as well a Kashtan CIWS combat module with the missile launchers installed.
The 533-millimeter Type 53 torpedoes can be used for both antisurface warfare (ASuW) or antisubmarine warfare (ASW). Alternatively they can be replaced by nuclear antisubmarine missiles SS-N-15 "Starfish", which are exclusively launched through torpedo tubes of this caliber. The torpedo tubes fire through rectangular doors located in the flanks of the hull, on the quarterdeck section.
The helicopters carried are equipped with a search radar placed in a large fairing under the nose, a towed magnetic anomaly detector (MAD), a dipping sonar housed in a compartment after the cockpit and a set of electro-optical sensors. Special electronic equipment for target spotting and guidance of surface-to-surface missiles is present in the variant Ka-25T or "Hormone-B". These helicopters may be seen unarmed, but some have a ventral bay for antisubmarine torpedoes, nuclear depth charges or air-to-surface missiles.
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