The pride that went away with the country itself.
Given the unobvious future and very impartial past of "Admiral Kuznetsov", in the Russian navy there are no ships more priority and more dangerous than the Orlan-class heavy nuclear missile cruisers.
The mighty steel titans of the Cold War are also the largest and most powerful warships in the world with the exception of aircraft carriers.
Once there were four of them, but the creators turned out to be merciless to them - now only two rocket giants are destined to surf the seas. The new country, perhaps, hardly understands their importance and necessity, and the former kings of the oceanic fleet of the USSR no longer have a worthy retinue - but they are still deadly and still stir up the worries of the old enemy.
According to NATO classification, Project 1144 TARKs are classified as "battle cruisers" - by the way, the Eagles that entered service in the late stages of the Cold War were the only ships honored to enter this class after the end of World War II.
“Kirov-class battlecruisers ... You know, that sounds proudly. This is reminiscent of the times when the country threw down the gauntlet of a challenge to the entire military bloc, and the blue and white flag with a scarlet star, hammer and sickle evoked fear and admiration.
We will move away from our usual "Orlan", and in this material we will take the name of the atomic firstborn born in the USSR as a tribute to the achievements of a bygone era. The name that was remembered and became a household name for the enemies of the Fatherland.
Our nuclear-powered cruisers were viewed by the adversaries as "High Value Units", priority targets in the upcoming naval war. Built in the late 80s, the Kirovs were designed - like much of the Soviet naval arsenal at the time - to neutralize American carrier groups. Deck aviation NATO posed a threat not only to the coast of the Soviet Union, but also to missile submarine cruisers, and the USSR gave priority to eliminating them. The secondary purpose of the TARK can be called the role of an ocean raider - a similar task was considered in the framework of a non-nuclear conflict in Europe, and its essence was in attacks on Atlantic convoys of Americans and Canadians, designed to reduce the flow of reinforcements sent to the rescue of the rest of the NATO bloc.
In the United States to this day, there is a widespread opinion that it was to confront the Kirovs that the administration of President Ronald Reagan withdrew other steel monsters from the naval reserve - four battleships of the Iowa type, which underwent modernization and partial rearmament, precisely to combat the Red Banners missile cruisers. Now it is difficult to say why it was decided to return veterans of the Second World War from the "naphthalene fleet" (as the Americans call their ship reserve), and whether our "Kirov" had anything to do with this - but such a hypothesis, however, can be called at least interesting, but also extremely flattering - although this is doubtful, but were the Yankees really so uncertain about more modern ships that they decided to reanimate as many as four battleships?
Of course, the return of "Iowa" was dictated primarily by their use as the most powerful artillery platforms for strikes on the coast - the Americans managed to test them in a similar capacity during the war in Korea, and later in Vietnam, appreciating the role of the main the caliber of battleships supported by Marine operations.
However, since the Yankees themselves have an alternative opinion on this matter, why not consider it to us?
Nuclear battle cruiser
"Kirov" became the first Soviet warship with a nuclear power plant. By the time it entered service in 1980, the US Navy already had nine nuclear-powered cruisers and three nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. However, its enormous size and armament significantly distinguish it from its American counterparts.
Initially, the USSR planned to build seven ships of this project - but all hopes for this, as you know, went to pieces, and only four cruisers were destined to see the light of day.
In general, Kirov suffered a lot during the design process - the fleet wanted everything at once, and for quite a long time the developers did not have a clear enough understanding of the tasks assigned to them. They tried to divide the project twice, trying to go along the path of creating highly specialized ships - strike missile and nuclear anti-submarine cruisers. And then they combined it again, trying to fit the functionality in one body. We know the result: a multipurpose giant, carrying in its belly almost all available types of weapons.
The nuclear power plant provided the ship with unlimited cruising range, which rested solely on the "human factor" (the crew suddenly needed rest and provisions), the presence of ammunition and breakdowns. By the way, with the latter, everything was very, very good - some protracted design process played into the hands of nuclear engineers. The KN-3 reactor unit was developed specifically for Kirov on the basis of the well-run OK-900 unit (created in the mid-1960s for second-generation nuclear icebreakers). Such a "trump card" made the ship a deadly enemy for the AUG: the missile cruiser could go on an equal footing with the American nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, leaving them no advantage in speed and maneuverability.
Armed and dangerous
By the way, all four ships of Project 1144 had slight differences among themselves - the head "Kirov", for example, carried two 100-mm AK-100 guns, while the next Frunze only one 130-mm AK-gun. 130. In a word, the composition of auxiliary weapons and radio-technical equipment differed from cruiser to cruiser - this, however, did not prevent them from being one of the most formidable ships in the world, noticeably ahead of the American Virginia and California.
20 supersonic anti-ship missiles P-700 with high-explosive fragmentation or special (nuclear) warhead weighing 750 kilograms - a real masterpiece of the Soviet defense industry. It can be characterized like this: it is a kind of supersonic unmanned kamikaze aircraft with an inertial and active radar guidance system (to call Granite simply a cruise missile - this is the modesty of the highest measure), covering the distance to the target at high altitude at a speed of Mach 2,5, and then actively maneuvering when approaching it. Allied engineers distinguished themselves in the creation of the P-700 electronic "filling", originally solving the problem of targeting and distribution of targets - "Granites" were able to create a single network for data exchange (one of the missiles at the maximum height took the role of the leader and indicated the target - in case of its defeat, this function was assumed by the following, etc.). Primary target designation was provided by the Legend space-based satellite guidance system, shore-based aircraft (based on long-range bombers) or shipborne AWACS helicopters.
Kirov was not just designed as an "aircraft carrier killer" - taking into account the specifics of the main enemy, the cruiser was equipped with a multilevel air defense system, the first echelon of which can be called the S-300F "Fort" air defense system, capable of hitting any targets at an altitude of 27 km and a range up to 200 km. Next comes the M-4 "Osa-M", which intercepts targets at altitudes from 5 to 4000 meters at a distance of up to 15 km, and all this splendor is completed by eight 30-mm "Gatling guns", as it is now fashionable to talk about multi-barreled rapid-fire guns - of course , as you already understood, we are talking about the AK-630 installations.
Looking at all this firepower, Western experts even put forward theories that the Kirov alone could completely replace the entire British squadron during the war for the Falkland Islands.
And to fight this titan, NATO brings from the depths stories a giant of a completely different order ...
"Fist Fighter" of the American Navy
Built in the 1940s, the Iowa-class battleships were designed to be extremely fast battleships designed to interface with carrier formations. "Iowam" was never destined to face opponents equal to their class in battle, but many wars fell on the long life of battleships: World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Lebanon, the Persian Gulf ...
However, another world war could have fallen to their fate, and America carefully prepared its veterans for it.
After the withdrawal from the reserve in the early 80s, there was a lot of controversy about how exactly the Iowa should be modernized - however, all options for a deep restructuring of the battleship were rejected, and the basis of their weapons, as before, were massive gun turrets, each of which contained three 406-mm guns, capable of sending an armor-piercing projectile weighing 1225 kg to a distance of 38 kilometers. Such firepower could playfully tear apart any ship of modern construction, only there was one "but" - in the era of guided missile weapons and aviation, the enemy still had to be reached, which is why the Iowa's solid main caliber was losing its combat value.
The Americans naturally decided to increase the firepower of their monsters - fortunately there was enough room for creativity on the battleships - and in place of the four dismantled 127-mm installations, eight armored quadruple Mk.143 launchers with BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles were erected for firing at ground targets (total ammunition of 32 units), four Mk.141 installations for 16 RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship turbojet missiles and four Mk.15 Vulcan-Falanx anti-aircraft artillery systems, which provide short-range anti-missile defense.
Separately, it is worth mentioning, perhaps, much more important elements of modernization - all radio-electronic equipment was completely updated on the Iowa: radar for surface target detection and early air detection, a new navigation system, an air situation control system, a satellite communications complex, electronic warfare equipment and much other. According to the Pentagon, the battleships could continue to serve until 2005 without updating their weapons and electronics.
As befits ships of this class, the Iowas had excellent protection - especially by the standards of post-war shipbuilding. An armored belt made of case-hardened steel, 307 mm thick, could withstand the impact of any conventional naval weapons 80s, and the high speed, coupled with excellent maneuverability, made the battleship a deadly sea killer - of course, provided that the enemy was stupid enough to get close ...
In general, modeling such fights is a rather pointless exercise. Not so long ago, a similar scenario was played out in The National Interest, but such stories take into account the confrontation of only two combat units, torn out of the framework of the conceptual system in which they are designed to operate - however, to be honest, I do not dare to try to paint the confrontation of the American "surface battle group "And the Soviet" cruising shock ". Since we are considering the "urban legend" from the United States, we will somewhat ease our task and return to the impossible confrontation between battleship and missile cruiser.
So, let's imagine that it's 1987. The OVD and NATO came together in a non-nuclear confrontation, and the Red Banner Northern Fleet bears the burden of intercepting the Allied Atlantic convoys. "Kirov" goes out into the operational space through the broken Faroe-Icelandic line and goes on a mission as a raider (in general, under the Soviet Union, this was impossible even in theory - the "Eagles" were built for operations as part of the KUG, and such a formidable ship would never would be sent to solve such secondary tasks) ...
This is what the real composition of the compound would look like, in which "Iowa" could take part in the Third World War. Source: Wikimedia Commons
It is vitally important for the United States to keep Iceland and keep the Keflavik airbase - an Iowa-backed landing force is sent to the island. The battleship will have to provide fire support for the Marine Corps units, as well as act as a strike force in the event of a direct collision with surface ships of the Soviet fleet.
Suppose the Kirov is ordered to intercept an American force, which in turn detects the cruiser at a distance of 250 km. The commander of the ship group sends the battleship as the only possible means, if not to destroy, then at least to thwart the attack and drive the Soviet TARK away from the convoy - the rest of the ships are too important to ensure the landing.
In fact, despite the heavy armor, the Iowa has no advantage over the Kirov - the speed of the opponents is equal, and the advantage in electronic and weapon systems is obviously in our cruiser. The "pistol" range of the battleship's main battery towers, on which it really has a combat advantage, is ridiculous to consider - of course, the TARK would not have survived the hits of such weapons, but it is naive to believe that Soviet sailors were idiots or amateurs.
If we assume that both ships established radar contact, then Kirov will have an advantage in the first salvo - it was not for nothing that the P-700 had a huge range and flight time by the standards of those years, which raises a reasonable question: how many Granites are required to overcome the systems Missile defense and armor belt "Iowa"?
According to unconfirmed reports, the American aircraft carrier of the "Nimitz" type needed to hit 9 anti-ship missiles P-700 for a complete loss of combat capability and possible destruction. But the aircraft carrier does not carry tons of armor on itself (although it has a greater displacement) ...
All further variations of the confrontation depend solely on how many missiles will go off in the first salvo of Kirov - taking into account the need to overcome the battleship's anti-missile defense and completely disable the TARK-u, it may be necessary to release all the ammunition of its anti-ship missiles.
It is important for the Soviet cruiser to stay as far away from its rival as possible - even in the RGM-84D modification, the Harpoons had a range of 220 km, that is, almost half the size of Granit, and the danger of the main battery guns was repeatedly mentioned above. Here, however, we are directly faced with the problem of issuing target designation, but in the American fantastic scenario under consideration, we will forget about it, so be it.
"Iowa" as such is defenseless against the firepower of "Kirov". If our cruiser has an echeloned air defense and, plus or minus, can easily cope with the battleship's "Harpoons" (of which, we recall, there are only 16 - and the TARK was designed to fend off a real storm of rocket fire), then the veteran World War II veteran will receive hits under any circumstances RCC.
Of course, in reality, the battleship would be covered by Ticonderoga-class cruisers, but ...
So, suppose that to destroy such a heavily armored and priority target, Kirov sends out a full salvo of 20 anti-ship missiles, and then ... retreats. Further battle is unprofitable for our cruiser - the battleship will receive critical damage in one way or another, and the TARK has already used up the entire stock of offensive weapons. It is ridiculous to talk about the AK-100 guns, and the fire from the air defense missile system on the surface targets of the airborne formation covered by the "Aegis" is unlikely to be effective.
In fact, the fate of "Iowa" is a foregone conclusion - she has no way to escape from the 20 "Granites". It all depends solely on luck - even if the ship is able to go under its own power, the damage will be critical, and in the course of hostilities no one will waste resources on restoring the old battleship. Most likely, the veteran will still stay afloat - he was designed to withstand such attacks, but as a combat unit it will cease to exist for sure.
In a sense, the Americans will win - the Kirov's ammunition is empty, now it needs to load anti-ship missiles, and the cruiser will be forced to abandon the tactics of single raiding. The combat mission has been disrupted, and now the Red Banner Northern Fleet will be forced to regroup its forces for a new attack.
However, this is a symbolic consolation - "Iowa" is out of action and will not be able to provide fire support to its unit.
As we can see even on the example of such a conditional and primitive modeling, dear readers, any hypotheses about the reactivation of Iowa to fight our nuclear missile cruisers can be called absolutely untenable - this is nothing more than a tale for a gullible listener who is ready to believe in an equal confrontation between a ship of forty years ago and the latest (at the time of the 80s) carrier of guided missile weapons.
In no hypothetical situation, a battleship will not be able to fight a cruiser designed to destroy aircraft carriers.
The TARK will always have the advantage in the first salvo, and even such a powerful artillery ship like the Iowa will have nothing to oppose.
Thus, all speculations about the withdrawal of battleships from the reserve for the sake of naval battles with Soviet ships of the first rank can be called absolutely untenable.