The Kiev Class was a larger version of the Moskva Class and her design was a bold step in achieving a through-deck carrier. Lacking catapults and arrester gear she was only able to operate V/STOL fixed-wing aircraft along with helicopters. In the Soviet Navy the Kiev class of ships was specifically designated as a heavy aviation cruiser. The ships layout mirrored the Moskva Class with the bow, or forward area, dedicated to heavy missile armament and the aft, or rear section of the ship, utilized for aviation. V/STOL fighters needed a rolling deck for take-off and, dissimilar to normal practice, a 2/3 length angled flight deck was all on the port side having a moderate 4.5 degree angle. This considerable flight deck overhang created an out-of-balance weight problem. To counterbalance the flight deck, a massive island (by carrier standards) was constructed on the starboard side of the ship. The intended mission of the Kiev class was support for strategic missile submarines and it was capable of engaging in anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and surface warfare as well.
The Kiev, or also called the Krechyet, class was in compliance with the new ship classification system introduced by the Soviet Navy. The classification sported a 14,700 square meter flight deck, arrestor wires, and a ski-jump type ramp at the bow. The carrier air wing consisted of 14 x Yakovlev Yak-41M "Freestyle" vertically launched interceptors, 8 x Yakovlev Yak 38 "Forger" attack aircraft, 10 x Kamov Ka-27 PLO "Helix", 2 x Kamov Ka-27 PS "Helix" Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopters, and 4 x Kamov Ka-27 RLD "Helix" helicopters. Two elevators on the starboard side would transport the aircraft from the hangar deck to the flight deck. Defense of the ship was handled by the "Bazalt" anti-ship missile system along with 8 x surface-to-surface missile launchers. The Krechyet class air defense system used Klinok vertical missile launchers and anti-aircraft missiles.
The Project 1143 ships were designed by the Nevskoye Planning and Design Bureau and built at the Nikolayev South facility, formerly Chernomorsky Shipyard 444. Each ship in the class featured some different design features. Starting with the Minsk, the aircraft capacity was increased upwards of 50% by changing the hangar deck area and parking area for the aircraft. During a refit, the flight deck forward edge was rounded and wind deflectors were added. The Kiev sister ships were designed to carry new generation aircraft such as the Yakovlev Yak-36P (Yak-141) supersonic VTOL aircraft though these were subsequently cancelled. The defense air arm resulted in a mix of Kamov Ka-27 series helicopters, and Kamov Ka-25 series helicopters. The last carrier constructed was the Baku, and - with all upgraded modifications - some consider her a separate class altogether. Improvements in this unit included a phased array radar, extensive electronic warfare installations, and an enlarged command and control suite. The flight deck was extended forward 5 meters, 15 feet more than that of the Kiev. Additional modifications were the addition of four additional SS-N-12 SLCM launchers for a total of 12. The ship was equipped with 60 anti-submarine rockets and an Udav-1 integrated anti-submarine warfare system.
The Kiev was retired in 1994 and was being used for parts in the Admiral Gorshkov. In August 2000, it was reported that a shipyard in China purchased the retired carrier from Russia. Her sister ship, the Minsk, was sold to China as a recreational floating casino. Russia sold the Admiral Gorshkov, which had been inactive since 1991, to the Indian Navy. The Gorshkov reportedly will be extensively modified at a cost of between $500-$650 million and on assurances from the Russian government she would be ready for operational service in the India Navy in 2009. In Indian service, she was appropriated renamed the INS Vikramaditya.
The Kiev, now under Chinese ownership, is set to open sometime in 2012 in its new guise - that of an ex-naval luxury hotel - all as part of a military-themed park based in east Tianjin and geared towards tourists needing something more than standard surroundings.