All naval tactical nuclear weapons were removed from Russian ships and subs in 1992, but the Russian Federation has stated it can put nuclear sub-launched cruise missiles back in during a "threatening period". The USSR had standardised nuclear warheads capable of being fitted into regular torpedoes.
Calling a Spade a "Large Digging Implement"- Surface VesselsThe Soviet Union didn't use the conventional ship type names of the West and generally had some rather different ideas about ship-building (little emphasis on damage control and reloads, more emphasis on lots of weaponry). Larger Soviet ship types had fairly noticeable weapons variations between vessels.
Project 956 Sarych (Buzzard)/"Sovremenny" class guided missile destroyerArriving in the early 1980s, these ships carried eight Moskit/"Sunburn" missiles and were oriented for anti-surface actions, also carrying AK-630 CIWS systems. Carries a Ka-27 "Helix" chopper and a decent anti-air armament in the Buk/SA-N-7 "Gadfly". Also has a reduced radar cross section. 21 were built for the USSR, the last seven having upgraded weapons. Four have been sold to China with various upgrades.
Project 1143 Krechyet (Gryfalcon)/"Kiev" class "heavy aviation cruiser" (V/STOL aircraft carrier)The Russian class description has two reasons- one, to get the thing through the Bosphorous (the straits through Turkey, where aircraft carriers are banned by international treaty) and two, because that's a much better description of what it is. It carried 12 surface-to-surface missiles (the P-500/SS-N-12 "Sandbox"), a large number of SAMs, torpedoes, AK-630 CIWS weapons and aircraft. The latter included the Ka-25 "Hormone" helicopter and the Yak-38 "Forger" VTOL/STOL aircraft (it was not capable of carrying full carrier aircraft). Compared to Western carriers where they are the centerpiece of a fleet and designed to project power, Soviet CVs were intended to support a surface or submarine fleet by providing air and ASW cover with their aircraft, and supplement the supported fleet's firepower with its own armament. This was intended as an interim design until a full length carrier could be built. However, that interim lasted a tad longer than expected - Defense Minister Ustinov was not an advocate of full-deck aircraft carriers and continued production of the Kievs due to their "cost-effectiveness". Main specialisation was in the anti-submarine role (it was very good at it), which was the main threat to Soviet SSBNs in the bastion areas.
Project 1143.4 Admiral GorshkovThe fourth, considered by some to be a separate class due to a different weapons fit, originally called Baku. It also had a new phased-array radar designed "Mars-Passat". It was converted into a full-length carrier for the Indian Navy, INS Vikramaditya. This basically turned it into a smaller version the Admiral Kuznetsov. It was however delivered late and severely over-budget. It earlier served as the test bed for the Yak-141 "Freestyle", a vastly superior replacement for the Yak-38 that despite being rather cool never made it past the prototype stage.
LeninFictional vessel of the class, featured in the Charles L. Taylor novel Show of Force.
Project 58/"Kynda" guided missile cruiserThe first application of a Soviet concept known as the "rocket cruiser", a vessel designed to attack other ships with long-range cruise missiles, possibly nuclear-tipped. Four were built, all now out of service. Could carry eight "Shaddock" anti-shipping missiles, plus some other weapons. The type was found to be excessively top-heavy (not good in the event of a major storm) and was not particularly comfortable for the crews, according to one site.
Admiral GolovkoThird of the class, this was briefly recommissioned in 1995-1997 to serve as flagship of the Black Sea Fleet. 'Project 57/"Krupnny" destroyers, later Project 57A/"Kanin" destroyers The first Soviet vessels to be missile-armed, this was a modification of the design "Kruplin" class to carry the P-1/SS-N-1 nuclear anti-shipping missile. When those missiles became obsolescent, the entire class was converted to an anti-submarine role and redesignated "Kanin" by the West. All now long gone.
Project 1234 Ovod (Gadfly)/"Nanuchka" class corvetteImproved defensive capabilities on previous missile boats. Carried six "Sirens". Some of the "Nanuchka III" version remain in service, with all "Nanuchka I" examples now gone. There were no "Nanuchka II" boats and "Nanuchka IV" appears to be a test bed for the new conventional Oniks/Yakhont (export designation)/SS-NX-26 family. Exported to Algeria, India and Libya, the last having one sunk by the US.
Project 1123/"Moskva"A helicopter carrier (or more accurately a very large helicopter cruiser), two (Moskva and Leningrad) were built, while a third was cancelled. Designed for an anti-SSBN role with 14 Ka-25 "Hormone" helicopters, it wasn't very good. Some analysts believe a dozen were planned.
Project 1134 Berkut (Golden Eagle)/"Kresta I"A guided missile cruiser, for anti-submarine, anti-ship and anti-air roles. Carried "Shaddocks", with a single Ka-25 "Hormone-A" helicopter to aid in the targeting- i.e. mid-course corrections and target location. Four were built- all now scrapped.
Project 1134A Berkut-A/"Kresta II"Ten built. An improvement of the "Kresta I", designed for anti-submarine roles. Carried RPK-3 Metel/SS-N-14 "Silex" missiles (see below)
Project 1160/1153 Orel (Eagle)''"An 80,000 ton carrier aborted at blueprint stage in favor of the Kievs, this would have given the Soviet Union a CVN (nuclear-powered carrier) with 70 aircraft. A revised, 72,000 ton Project 1153 vessel was proposed, but was abandoned in favor of another Kiev vessel.
Project 1144 Orlan (Sea Eagle)/"Kirov"-class "atomic rocket ship"More Dakka in real-life naval form. The largest cruisers in the world, having roughly the same displacement as a World War One battleship, sometimes termed in the West by that much-loved Speculative Fiction term "battlecruiser", although they lack the armour for that and the Russians call them "heavy missile cruisers". Nuclear powered, they carry the "Shipwreck" and also the "Starfish", as well as a lot of SAMs and torpedoes with nuclear capability. Only one is in active Russian service, the other three undergoing refits, with the remaining vessel being Pyotr Velikiy ("Peter the Great") which was called the Yuri Andropov when laid down in 1986 - it was severely delayed. It is now the flagship of the Russian Northern Fleet and is the ultimate example of the type. Four built, a fifth being scrapped under construction.
Heavy Weapons Ship: Project 1164 Atlant/"Slava"-class cruiserPossibly a cheaper complement to the "Kirov", it's a surface-strike ship, which can carry 16 "Sandboxes", as well as a Ka-27PL "Helix-A" anti-submarine chopper. Four were built, three remain in service. It's a ship armed to the teeth (6 AK-630 CIWS, 60 "Grumbles", 40 "Geckos", ten torpedo tubes) and wants you to know about it◊; whereas the Kirov-class cruisers use mostly vertical launch tubes that hide its missiles below deck, the Slava-class is covered in highly-visible above-deck missile tubes. Slava, the first ship of the class, is now called Moskva. It was, apparently, slightly damaged by a Georgian vessel (a Project 206 patrol boat) in the recent Russia-Georgia war, making a tactical withdrawal while another ship sunk the attacker.
Project 1143.5/"Admiral Kuznetsov"Russia's current sole aircraft carrier (full name Admiral Flota Sovetskogo Soyuza Kuznetsov- "Admiral of the Fleet of the Soviet Union Kuznetsov", after the commander of the Soviet Navy during the Great Patriotic War), formerly Tbilisi, then Leonid Brezhnev, then Riga. Like the "Kiev" class, it carries surface-to-surface missiles, namely sixteen "Shipwrecks", although its (large) SAM capability is only for point defence. However, it is a full-length carrier, carrying Su-33 "Flanker-D" aircraft. Conventional-powered, with a ski-jump, but no catapults, thus limiting the Su-33s to anti-air loads only. Carries navalised Su-25s (for training) as well, as well as Ka-27 "Helix" helicopters. Was originally planned to be equipped with two catapults before Defense Minister Ustinov removed them. While the ski-jump arrangement is less effective, it's also much cheaper. The lack of any offensive aviation assets speaks to Kuznetsov's role as an aircraft carrying cruiser, escorting and covering surface fleets and submarines, rather than as an offensive vessel like American carriers.
VaryagNumber two, known as Varyag ("Viking"), among other names, was never finished and sold incomplete to China, who eventually completed it to a modified design as Liaoning, basically serving as a prototype for future all-Chinese carrier designs.
Project 1143.7/"Ulyanovsk"An actual CVN, this got to 40% completion before being scrapped. A second may have been planned. It kept the ski jump, but added two catapults on the deck.
Project 1241 Molniya ("Lightning")/"Tarantul"A class of missile corvettes, successor to the "Osa" class. "Tarantul III" vessels could carry the "Sunburn", while older vessels could carry the "Styx". 98 ships built in total and exported. 23 remain in Russian service. An East German example, the Hiddensee is on display at the Naval Museum at Battleship Cove, Mass. Project 1154 Yastreb (Hawk)/"Neustrashimy" frigate Designed as a "Krivak" successor in the general anti-submarine role, seven were planned, but only two have been completed. The status of one incomplete vessel is unclear. "Starfish" capable.
Submarines- Conventional PropulsionRussia continues, unlike France, the UK and the US, to use diesel submarines. These have their uses- they're quieter, cheaper and can operate in shallower waters. Drawbacks, they're not as fast and are only stealthy at show speeds. Project 641/"Foxtrot" A long-range patrol vessel, one of the largest diesel subs ever built. 60 built, some exported. All Russian examples are now retired, replaced by the "Kilo" class. A number of retired examples are on display outside Russia. Designed to interdict shipping and could carry nuclear torpedoes. Featured in the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, where one boat, B-69, had practice depth charges dropped around it by USS Beale and then had three officers, with the sub running out of air, apparently argue over whether to ready the on-board nuclear torpedo, before deciding to surface.
"Whiskey" conversionsThe "Whiskey" family of diesel submarines was a large one, exported to a number of nations, with 215 total examples built. Other variants included a radar picket version (four conversions of the "Long Bin" variant"), the Project 640/"Whiskey Canvas Bag", so named after the large bag that covered the radar when not in use.
"Whiskey Single Cylinder"A single conversion of a Project 613/"Whiskey" sub to carry a single P-5/SS-N-3 "Shaddock" cruise missile behind the sail.
Project 644/"Whiskey Twin Cylinder"Conversion of the "Whiskey" class to carry two "Shaddocks".
Project 655/"Whiskey Long Bin" guided missile submarinesAnother conversion of the "Whiskey" to carry four "Shaddocks". Six were converted. Notable for their distinctive conning tower, they were operational until the late 1970s and then some became training boats for a while.
Project 651/"Juliett"-class guided missile submarinesDesigned to give the Soviets the capability to attack the east coast of the US with four "Shaddock" cruise missiles, 16 were built of the 35 planned. They were later upgraded for the P-6 and then the P-500/SS-N-12, for attacking US carriers. The last was retired in 1994. One is on display at the U-Boat museum at Peenemünde in Germany. The "Echo II" was essentially a nuclear-powered version of this with more missiles.
Project 641B Som ("Catfish")/"Tango" classBuilt in the 1970s, there were 18 of these boats, which had better battery endurance than the "Foxtrots" by a fair amount. Three are now museums and only one appears to be in service. Not exported
Project 705 Lyra/"Alfa" SSNThe fastest military submarines ever built (capable of 50mph on a burst) and one of the deepest diving. Never used in combat.
Project 670 Skat/"Charlie I" SSGNFirst one launched in 1967, 11 were built in all. An SSGN, intended to launch the P-120 (see above), that was delayed so they were altered for the P-70 Ametist/SS-N-7 "Starbright" missiles. Carried eight of those, four high explosive and four nuclear. A considerable improvement on the "Echo", namely because it could fire underwater. All retired by 1993.
Project 667AM "Yankee Sidecar"A one-boat class, namely a conversion of "Yankee I" K-420 to test the SS-NX-24 cruise missiles.
"Yankee SSN"Conversions of sixteen former "Yankee I" missile submarines to attack submarines due to the limitations of the SALT treaties, removing the missile tubes and entering service around 1984. The Soviets didn't like to throw anything away.
Project 667 AT Grusha/"Yankee Notch"A conversion of four or six of the "Yankee I" class to carry cruise missiles, because of the SALT limitation on boomers. Longer than the older class, it carried the naval version of the Kh-55, known as the SS-N-21 "Sampson", possibly as many as 40.
Project 949 Granit/"Oscar-I" and 949A Antei/"Oscar II" SSGNCarrying 24 "Shipwrecks", it's another SSGN class designed for anti-shipping roles and the biggest SSGN in the world not counting the Ohio conversions. The Kursk, lost with all hands in 2000, was an "Oscar II".
Project 671RTM Shchuka (Pike)/"Victor III" attack submarineAlso known by the USN, informally, as the "Walker" class, due to the role that John Walker, a KGB mole inside the US Navy played in its design via passing on information, the "Victor III" was the first Soviet sub to feature a towed sonar array. Designed to defend boomers and surface convoys, it was significantly quieter than the "Victor II" due to the Soviets discovering the former could be easily tracked by the US.
Dual-Reactor Pike: Project 971 Shuka-B (Pike)/"Akula" attack submarine'Sometimes known as the Bars (snow leopard), the name of one of the boats, the Reporting Name can cause some confusion at times with the "Typhoon". Rather equivalent to the early Los Angeles class boats (which makes them very quiet), they can carry nuclear torpedoes. They have external tubes. Also one of the fastest subs in the world.
Be-12 Chayka (Seagull) "Mail"A sea-plane, capable of dropping nuclear depth charges, designed to hunt US boomers. Some remain in service, but not many.
Mi-14 "Haze"A derivative of the Mi-8 "Hip" (a very common transport helicopter and gunship), with a boat-like hull for water landing. Could drop nuclear depth charges. Il-38 "May" A development of the Il-18 "Coot" airliner for anti-submarine purposes- not the only modification of said turbo-prop. The modifications added a radome, a MAD (Magnetic Anomaly Detector) and four metres to the length, with the wings moved forward due to centre of gravity changes. Capable of carrying nuclear depth charges, it remains in Russian service and has been exported to India. Tu-16 "Badger" A medium-range sub-sonic bomber, mainly used in an anti-shipping role. Would have been used, along with the "Backfire" in a Macross Missile Massacre-style attack. It was the first Soviet jet-powered bomber, a counterpart to the US B-47 Stratojet originating in the early 1950s, and could also engage in land attack with free-fall bombs (conventional or nuclear) and stand-off missiles. Featured an internal bomb bay and external hardpoints. 1,509 Soviet examples were built. Versions for maritime reconnaissance, electronic warfare and tanker uses all existed- there are a lot of "Badger" variants and the type was progressively improved. Crew of four and armed with 23mm cannon for defensive purposes- earlier variants with a gun in the front. The tail gunner had an aiming radar, which got the NATO designation "Bee Hind". Used in Afghanistan in a carpet bombing role. The Chinese version, the Xian H-6, remains in service, but all of the other versions (conventional versions were exported to Egyptnote Indonesia and Iraq as well) have now been retired. Not capable of callisthenics, sadly... (although one radar used does have the reporting name "Mushroom")
Tu-22 "Blinder"A piece of rubbish. Soviet pilots hated the thing, some dubbing it non-flyable. A very interesting design- two engines on the tail, but that made maintenance hard. Several versions were built, including a jammer version and it was exported, to Iraq for example. Libya used it in Chad. Tu-22M "Backfire" Ah, the "Backfire". Now, this troper is a bit of a fan of this one, which caused NATO a lot of headaches in the 1980s led to arms negotiators engaging in long arguments as to the role, capability and name of the thing. This is a medium bomber, utilised in both naval and land attack roles. In some older Western literature, you'll see this referred to as the Tu-26, sometimes with a ? beside the designation. That was never its designation. The Tu-22M designation was apparently for Tupolev (the company who built it) to convince the Soviet government (and later for the Soviet government to try and convince the West) that it was just a modified "Blinder". Yeah, it was modified. Completely modified. About the only thing they had in common were the landing gears and some other part. But hey, they have vaguely similar shapes so the Soviets thought that was worth a try. Since the plane was capable of over Mach 2 on afterburner, the Americans were rather scared of the thing. As part of the SALT II treaty negotiations, they got the USSR to agree to take out the refuelling probe (there was an argument over whether the thing was strategic or tactical because of said probe, the Americans arguing the former, the Soviets the latter) and limit production to 30 a year. There are long-standing rumours about the type being lent to India and/or China in the near-future. The older sources can exaggerate its already very large 1,000-1,500 nm combat radius. The aircraft was incapable of a round trip to the US without in-flight refuelling and the bomber is not START-countable. Remaining bombers are being upgraded to Tu-22M5 standard. A swing-wing aircraft (like the F-14, which would have been tasked with intercepting them), it has a 22,000kg weapons capacity (bomb bay and externally) and has four crew, seated in two side-by-side cockpits. It has a very distinctive nose and is considered a very graceful aircraft. Features a tail gun. The aircraft has been used as a bomb truck, as it can carry about 80 250-kg bombs, in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Russia-Georgia. The 2008 Russia-Georgia War saw a Tu-22MR (a reconnaissance version) shot down by Georgian surface-to-air missiles. There was initial confusion over the type lost, as Russia calls this the Tu-22 in official contexts (as all the Tu-22 "Blinders" are now gone, there is only one "model of Tu-22" in service) and the Russian news report on it did a bad image search and showed a Tu-22.
Lun-classEkranoplan (Russian for "screen plane") or Wing In Surface Effect (or whatever) qualify as one of the most unusual types of vehicle ever created. Relying on something called "Wing In Ground-effect", they're a cross between hovercraft and very low-flying aircraft (and sometimes ship), making them a Military Mashup Machine. They'd be very good troop transports, being able to go below enemy radar. When this troper heard about a 100 metre long one in Devil May Care, he thought the author was making it up. Turns out there were prototypes of a 100-metre long such craft, which the US dubbed "The Caspian Sea Monster". Moskit-capable and designed for anti-submarine, only one of this class (reporting name "Utka", Russian for "Duck" was completed. It appears to be out of service. Still, it was very valuable experiment. WIG craft can carry more weight for less fuel than a plane while moving much faster than a ship, so there were and are other projects. Boeing promises even bigger (1400 tons of cargo) transoceanic monster, Russian ATTK offers little (4 passengers to 10 tons or 60 passengers) machines for quiet waters, and no doubt more projects are still in the pipeline.
Anti-Shipping Missiles, Naval Land Attack MissilesAmerican anti-shipping missiles tend to be sub-sonic and low-flying, attempting to avoid detection before it's too late. Soviet missiles tend to be supersonic, deciding that since they were going to be detected, the least they could do is give the enemy less time to react. Many of these weapons are "heavyweight" missiles, of enough power in their conventional forms to sink frigates or destroyer on their own.
P-5 Pyatyorka ("Fiver"- the Russian equivalent to an A-grade)/SS-N-3 "Shaddock"A nuclear capable (200 or 350KT) anti-shipping missile, with a range of about 750km on the C model. Retired c.1990. Also submarine launched and was used for a while in a strategic land-attack role on the "Echo I" class. Featured on the "Kynda"-class cruisers. Wasn't a sea-skimmer, wasn't especially fast, but did pack a powerful warhead even in its conventional form.
P-15 Termit/SS-N-2 "Styx"A short-range anti-shipping missile, with some nuclear variants and a subsonic speed. Mostly found on missile boats like the "Osas", "Komars" and early "Tarantuls", but also featured on the "Kashin" destroyers. Exported to China, who made their own modifications, such as the HY-2 "Silkworm" and others. In Egyptian service, they scored the first ship-on-ship missile kill against an Israeli destroyer in 1967.
P-120 Malakhit/SS-N-9 "Siren"Deciding that 100 km from a carrier group was a suicidal distance, the Soviets insisted on a range greater than 120 km. Chelomey developed this low-flying (40m) sub-sonic anti-shipping missile. Capable of being carried on ships or subs, its range was about 150 km. It had an infra-red seeker as well as a radar system for terminal guidance, with conventional and 200 KT nuclear versions. Carried by the "Charlie II", the "Nanuchka" family and the "Tarantul" family.
P-500 Bazalt/SS-N-12 "Sandbox"Supersonic anti-ship cruise missile. It was capable of communicating with other missiles in a salvo, allowing them to cooperatively attack a carrier battle group. A high flier would designate targets for the other missiles in the salvo via a datalink, with at least half directed at the carrier and the other half at nearby surface escorts. If the high-flier was shot down, another missile would climb and take its place. Only the conventional version remains in service. Found on upgraded "Echo" SSGNs (although they still had to surface launch), the Kiev aircraft-carrying cruisers and the Slava cruisers. The missile could also be coupled with the Legenda satellites to receive targeting information.
P-700 Granit/SS-N-19 Shipwreck "Shipwreck"A anti-ship missile designed to replace the P-70 Ametist and P-120 Malakhit. Had a range of 600+ km. Like the Bazalt, the Granit could communicate with other missiles in a salvo via datalink, allowing them to cooperatively attack a carrier battle group. The missile’s guidance system also included several different pre-programmed courses, making its attack route far less predictable. The missile also carried a powerful deception jammer. Carried by Kirov-class cruisers, Kuznetsov-class aviation cruisers and "Oscar"-class "carrier killer" SSGNs. Like Bazalt, it could also receive targeting information from the Legenda satellites.
P-270 Moskit/SS-N-22 "Sunburn"A Mach 2.5, 120km range anti-shipping missile. Found on the "Tarantul III" missile boats and notably on the "Sovremenyy" destroyers. Can also be air launched.
Kh-22/AS-4 "Kitchen"As carried by the Tu-22M "Backfire bomber". Capable of a speed of Mach 4 and a range of 270 miles (440 km) in the upgraded M version, it could carry a 350-KT nuclear warhead. This was an anti-shipping missile, designed to be used against US carrier groups.
KSR-2 or KS-11/AS-5 "Kelt"Capable of Mach 1.2, two could be carried by a "Badger-G".
KSR-5/AS-6 "Kingfish"Smaller version of the "Kitchen", it had a range of 700 km (!), a top speed of Mach 3.5 (!) and in nuclear mode, another 350-KT warhead (!!).
RPK-2 Viyuga (Blizzard)/SS-N-15 "Starfish"A nuclear depth-charge capable anti-shipping missile, sub or surface-ship launched. Carried by a number of boomers and surface ships, it's somewhat equivalent to the (retired) US SUBROC missile, but could carry a 200 kiloton warhead.
RPK-3 Metel/SS-N-14 "Silex"A ship-launched anti-submarine missile, found on Kiev (although not the other ships of that class), "Kresta II" cruisers and "Krivaks", among others. A longer-ranged equivalent to the US ASROC. P-70 Ametist/SS-N-7 "Starbright" Carried by the "Charlie I" class. Nuclear or conventional capable, it had a range of 65km and would have been used for surprise "pop-up" attacks. Low sonar range, though, would have meant it was unlikely to hit. [R-27K/SS-NX-13] anti-shipping ballistic missile Think the Chinese are doing something original? Think again. This was a planned modification of the R-27/SS-N-6 "Serb" sub-launched missile, also intended for possible anti-sub use. This got to flight testing stage, but had its development terminated in 1974 as it would have been limited under SALT.
RK-55 Granat/SS-N-21 "Sampson"Land attack cruise missiles with a range of about 3,000km, sub launched versions of the (banned by INF) SSC-X-4 "Slingshot". Carry a 200-KT warhead. Carried by the "Akula", but possibly not any more.
[P-750 Grom/SS-NX-24 "Scorpion"]Nuclear only, this strategic cruise missile would have had Mach 3 capability and a range of 3,000-4,000km and was tested by a modified "Yankee" boat, the Project 667M "Yankee Sidecar". Never entered service.
53-58/T-5A nuclear 533mm (21 inch, a standard size for the heavier types of these weapons) torpedo, entering service in 1958. Capable of travelling 10km at 40 knots, it had a limited production run. It was used in underwater nuke testing.