Home' Defence Review Asia : DRA March-April 2017 Contents 30 DefenceReviewAsia | MARCH/APRIL 2017
up to ten of them and direct R-27-series radar-guided
missiles onto two. The radar works in conjunction
with an electro-optical seeker set in front of the
canopy. A helmet-mounted sighting system (Ukraine's
Sura or Russia's Schel) provides target designation
for R-73 heat-homing missiles.
Even though Moscow did not sell Su-27Ks
to Beijing, China acquired one aircraft in the
initial (experimental) batch from Ukraine when its
sovereignty covered Saki AFB in Crimea. Reverse-
engineering helped Chinese industry produce the
J-11. This is now the main type for Liaoning's air wing.
HEAVY AIRCRAFT-CARRYING CRUISER OF
Officially classified as a heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser
of Project 1143.5, Kuznetsov was started in 1982
at Nikolaev, launched on water in December 1985
and ferried to Sebastopol in October 1989. The ship
went into commission in December 1990. A year
later she ferried from Sebastopol to Severomorsk, the
main base of Russia's Northern Fleet.
For Nevskoye design bureau in St. Petesburg,
Project 1143.5 came as a logical continuation of
the Kiev-class. From its predecessors the newer
ship inherited main machinery of four steam turbines
each turning an individual bronze screw. Her
enlarged hull of full displacement of 61,400 tonnes
was a welded construction made of steel. Use
of lightweight materials was limited in view of the
Royal Navy experience during the 1982 Falklands
War, when warships made of aluminum alloys often
caught fire after being hit. Instead, the Russian ship
was made to cruiser standards featuring sandwich
armor with steel and ceramics layers.
To propel a heavier ship, eight boilers running on
mazut (marine furnace oil fuel) were made to work at
a higher pressure. Later, the navy came to regret the
decision to employ them, since the boilers proved
faulty, susceptible to poor maintenance and saltwater
corrosion. Besides, machinery running on mazut tend
to leave heavy black smoke at times when residual
fuel burns on higher power settings.
At the same time, mazut is cheap. Low fuel costs
were important for the Russian Navy during the
1990s when it suffered from underfunding. In the
first ten years of service, Kuznetsov covered 75
thousand nautical miles. The inner reservoirs can
take in ten thousand tonnes of heavy oil fuel. This
enables the ship to cover 8,000 nautical miles at 18
knots. Besides, the inner reservoirs can take up to
2,500 tonnes of jet-fuel.
The hangar measures about four thousand square
metres (dimensions 153x26x7.2 metres). Its floor
is set 1.8 metres above the waterline to ensure no
flooding in the case of minor hull damage. Aircraft are
moved up and down by a pair of 40-tonne elevators.
The ship has a flight deck measuring 14,800 square
metres (305x70 metres). There is an angled deck (at
7 degrees) with the landing strip 205 metres long
and 26 metres wide.
At long distances, aircraft going for a landing
are assisted by the Resistor radar system. Coming
closer, the pilot orientates using the Luna system's
lights that change color to indicate whether the
airplane approaches too low or too high. No flare is
prescribed before touchdown. The Svetlana hydraulic
arrestor machine has four steel wires with 12-meter
spacing. The last wire is positioned 40 metres off
the rear end of the flight deck. Typically, a fighter jet
comes to a stop after a landing run of 90-100 metres
provided its hook had engaged with one of the wires.
The flight deck offers two "short start" takeoff
lanes each of 105 metres, one "long start" of 200
metres. All terminate at the farther edge of the 14.3
degree ski jump on the bow that is designed to
assist takeoff operations. A fighter jet accelerates to
liftoff speed of about 200 km/h on its own engines
without assistance from the ship's systems except for
automatically removing stumble blocks from the main
To protect the ship and her crew of nearly two
thousand men, Kuznetsov has four Kinzhal anti-
aircraft systems with rotary launchers loaded with
192 3M30 missiles. There are also eight Kortik
antiaircraft systems with 256 9M311 missiles and 48
thousand 30-mm shells, plus three batteries of 30-
mm AK-630M rapid-fire cannons with 48,000 shells.
An incoming torpedo can be defeated by rockets
from Udav launchers; targeting is provided by the
Polinom-T and Zvezda-M1 sonar systems.
The most devastating weaponry on board are
twelve 3M-45 Granit supersonic anti-ship missiles.
These are kept in individual silos built into the flight
deck. In October 2016 a modified 3M-45 was
fire-tested against a ground target. The missile
carries a 770kg charge (which can be nuclear or
conventional) over a 700km firing range, which makes
it a formidable strike weapon.
Most of the ship's radio-electronic systems with
emitters and receivers are located in and on the
13-level superstructure rising 32 metres above the
flight deck. Mars-Passat, Fregat-M and Podkat radars
are mounted there. The Mars-Passat appeared faulty
and immature, so Varyag - next in line of the Soviet
carriers coming after Kuznetsov - was to have instead
a combination of Fregat-M and Podberezovik radars.
This pair were later chosen for Vikramaditya, a former
Soviet Navy heavy aircraft-carrying cruiser of project
1143.4 rebuilt under project 11430 for STOBAR
operations of MiG-29K/KUB deck fighters.
A navy version of the Flanker was initially referred to as the Sukhoi Su-
27K, but formally accepted into service in August 1998 as the Su-33. The
program commenced in 1982 when several Su-27 prototypes were fitted
with arrestor hooks for work at Saki.
Credit: V Karnozov
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