The Kirov-class battlecruiser is a class of nuclear-powered warship of the Russian Navy, the largest and heaviest surface combatant warships (i.e. not an aircraft carrier or amphibious assault ship) in operation in the world (28,000 tons fully loaded).
Among modern warships, they are second in size only to large aircraft carriers, and of similar size to a World War I era battleship. The official designation of the ship-type is “heavy nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser” (Russian: тяжёлый атомный ракетный крейсер). The ships are often referred to as battlecruisers by western defense commentators due to their size and general appearance.
Originally built for the Soviet Navy, the class is named for the first of a series of four ships to be constructed, Kirov, which was renamed Admiral Ushakov in 1992. Original plans called for the construction of five ships, however the last was cancelled. In Russia this class of ship is usually referred to by the designation Project 1144 Orlan (sea eagle).
Only the Pyotr Veliky is currently operational. Admiral Nakhimov is projected to re-enter the Russian Navy in 2018.
Russia planned to reactivate the remaining two vessels by 2020, but recent reporting suggests that the reactors in Admiral Ushakov and Admiral Lazarev are in a poor condition, and these ships cannot be safely reactivated.
The appearance of the Kirov class played a key role in the recommissioning of the Iowa-class battleships by the United States Navy in the 1980s.
This week, the Pyotr Veliky has been involved in battle-drills in the Arctic Ocean.
The Russian Ministry of Defense released a video of the Granit missile launch:
Modernization of Admiral Nakhimov is ongoing (to be completed by 2018) with the modernization of Pyotr Velikiy to last from 2018 until 2021.