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Russians Moving ‘Carrier Killer’ Cruiser to Pac Fleet AO

by christian on March 28, 2011

Not sure why, but for those of you who track foreign military moves, it seems that the Russian navy is planning to move one of its most modern and powerful guided missile cruisers out of the Northern fleet operations area and into the more dynamic — and contested — Pacific fleet AO.

The Russian missile cruiser Marshal Ustinov may reinforce Russia’s Pacific Fleet in 2013 after repairs, a high-placed official of the Russian Navy said on Sunday.

The Ustinov is the second of four Slava class guided missile cruisersand is now stationed in Severomorsk in Murmansk. It’s unclear why the Russians want to move the Ustinov to warmer Pacific climes, but if the armaments on this ship are any indication, it’s going to be a major influence on the sea lanes — that is if the Russian government has enough cash to fill ‘er up and let her leave Vladivostok.

The Marshal Ustinov cruiser has been designed as a surface strike ship with some anti-air and ASW capability. It is fitted with sixteen SS-N-12 Sandbox nuclear-capable supersonic anti-ship missiles, which are mounted in four pairs on either side of the superstructure.

In addition, the cruiser reportedly carries 64 SA-N-6 Grumble long-range surface-to-air missiles (SAM) and 40 SA-N-4 Gecko short-range SAMs.

NATO experts had dubbed Russian combat ships of this class “the killer of aircraft carriers,” as it can carry 1,000 kg of high-explosives, or a tactical nuclear warhead, out to a range of 300 nautical miles.

(Gouge: DID)

– Christian

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{ 70 comments… read them below or add one }

jamesb101 March 28, 2011 at 11:17 am

First the Chinese demo a aircraft carrier killer…Now this?

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Rusty March 28, 2011 at 11:23 am

Time to bring back the battleships!

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Sterling March 28, 2011 at 11:38 am

Yea! And while we're at it, ironclads and sails!

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Lance_HBomb March 28, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Can't forget the canoes!

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A. Nonymous March 28, 2011 at 3:54 pm

And how about some Triremes? I'm sure the Navy can't wait to add "Chief Oarsman" back into their ratings.

Chops March 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Does anyone notice these moves by Russia are happening as China increases its naval presence in the Pacific.Russia has a tiger at their back door and they know it-they are not worried about the U S Navy-they've sparred with us for 40yrs.We know and understand each other–China ia a wildcard that no one can turn their back on right now.

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Guest March 28, 2011 at 1:38 pm

You never ever turn your back to a tiger…

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Nadnerbus March 29, 2011 at 1:19 am

Actually, the more I think about it, the more I wonder. Russia sold China their first carrier, so if they are nervous about Chinese military expansion, they didn't think that sale through very well. I wonder if Russia, which still seems to see the US and the West in general as the enemy of sorts, isn't thinking something along the lines of "The enemy of my enemy…"

An ascendant China may serve Russian strategic interests in a way we have not considered.

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Hurray March 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm

You're shocked by Russia not thinking through weapon sales? How often were Russian civilians and military attacked by their own weapons? All the time. The Chechens aren't armed with Western weapons, neither were the Afghans and Pakistanis fighting them.

This goes without mentioning the dubious wisdom of selling arms to Syria, Libya, Iran, and so on, and so forth. Cash above all, mercantilism and nihilism combined in good measure.

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PMI March 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm

The Russians didn't sell Varyag to China. The Ukrainians ended up with it after the USSR dissolved & they sold it to a Chinese company that claimed it was going to be used as a floating casino.

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devildog7885 March 31, 2011 at 1:33 am

actually Russia And China was Training together at least there Ground troops were. so Russia and China are not in fear of each other. but are uniting for the American threat is my humble opinion.

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brian March 28, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Too bad without support craft the range of these missiles are only 20 Nautical Miles. What you can't see, you can't shoot.

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Michael March 28, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Ever heard of satelites?

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brian March 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Not only have I heard about satellites, I have also heard of anti-satalite missiles and long range bombers with standoff missles

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TLAM Strike March 28, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Don’t forget the embarked helicopter for OTH targeting. Also the Russian Navy operated Tu-95 Bears for long range targeting of missiles. I also imagine that shore based OTH radar sites could be used for targeting as well.

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Tony C March 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm

This move is in response to the increased uncertainty of the Pacific region.
North Korea threatens a war with South Korea, The Chinese tensions
with Japan, and now the earth quake/ tsunami in Japan. Russia has more
at stake there then the Black Sea. The Russian's have to make a show of force
in this region.

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Praetorian March 28, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Also before the earthquake Russia and Japan had some disagreements over the Kurill island chain.

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Nadnerbus March 29, 2011 at 1:21 am

I seem to recall Russia developing a huge natural gas field in the east. With economic interests at stake on that side of the nation, and things getting more choppy in the Pacific region, I can see why they might want to fly the flag around their shores.

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steve March 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Is a guided-missile cruiser really a threat to most navies anymore? I mean, it seems like even a full salvo of 16 missiles can easily be intercepted by a modern anti-air destroyer with dozens of SAMs…at leas thats the way it always plays out in Janes' Naval Warfare sim

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asdf March 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm

and 1000kg per missile is not that much versus a 100.000ton carrier…

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TLAM Strike March 28, 2011 at 5:44 pm

Those birds can also carry nuclear warheads as well.

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roland March 28, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I was just wondering with all technology and all ship manufacturing capabilities we have, why do we still dont have this type of modern and powerful guided missile cruisers for defense?

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Robert March 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Because we don't have cruisers. The few we have left are being phased out for guided missle destroyers.

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William C. March 28, 2011 at 8:06 pm

The Ticonderoga class isn't much of a cruiser anyway, just an enlarged Spruance. Now the proposed CGN-42 (AEGIS modified Virginia) would have been a real cruiser.

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PMI March 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm

The Soviet Union started building the Slavas back in the mid 70's & only completed 3-4 of them. The US commissioned the first Tico in '83 and there are still 22 of them in active service.

Feel better?

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blight March 28, 2011 at 11:25 pm

'cause the distinction between "destroyer" and "cruiser" has been blurred into almost total nothingness?

DDG's and CG's have VLS systems and AEGIS. What more could you ask for? The DDG is a far cry from WW2's tin can…

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Curt March 29, 2011 at 2:51 am

Your serious right? Like you would want one of these over a DDG Flight IIA? Seriously? Its over 20 years old and hasn't been updated a whole lot in the interim! Its electronics are way out of date and their not getting any better. Not to mention its RCS is huge and has an monster acoustic signature. Yeah, real state of the art.

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Bob March 28, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Does the James Naval Warfare Sim still let you fly F14's with Phoenix on-board? Our ability to kill these missiles early on in their flight path is diminished as the 18's with AMRAAM don't have the legs. So, know you are going to depend on a Hawkeye to pick them up over the horizon and then hope you have an outer-boundary picket (Burke DDG) in place to take a bunch of SM-3 shots that will be head-on or passing shots (where speed differential is going to be a killer).

It only takes one decent hit to put flight ops on hold for awhile.

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ben March 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm

Generally the main target for a "big, SSM armed, surface combatant", is the US Navy.

The same US navy that contains several dozen "big, SSM armed, submarine combatants"

The only advantage a big ship like those cruisers has is speed, being able to run away from the subs.
But because these particular cruisers aren't nuclear, they can only run faster than a sub for a short time, which means that they can be tailed all around the world at their slower cruising speed.

Either way, this deployment is pretty clearly another move in the russians pis sing contest with china.
And the chinese do NOT have the layered naval countermeasures to prevent this thing from being a threat.

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TLAM Strike March 28, 2011 at 5:47 pm

China’s new DDGs have a long range air defense missile that can combat high flying ASMs like the ‘SANDBOX’, and the phased array radars to detect them.

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Robotzilla March 28, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Plus China isnt bringing carriers into the mix just yet. A surface action group of PLAN destroyers isnt as big of a target as the carrier groups those birds were built to seek.

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Lance March 28, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Whats the fear? Isn't Russia and the US on good terms now? We can combine our forces and blow China away LOL!

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icedrake March 29, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I, for one, appreciate Lance's incisive and in-depth commentary on world politics.

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roland March 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm

We need to redesign our sea fighters, fit it iwth SAMS and anti ship missiles and place it in the pacific to defend our territory and USA security when attack. We may need about a 100 modified sea fighters in the pacific.

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ragincajun5454 March 28, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Mk-48 ADCAP

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Tad March 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm

This move is linked to something. What do the Russians want from the US right now? Do the Russians care about Libya? Is there some kind of treat talk going on? Maybe a pipeline being built? Some sort of trade deal going on? I really don't know, I just am tossing out this idea that the Russians make such moves in order to provide leverage for something entirely different, quite possibly a non-military issue taking place far away.

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roland March 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm

I hope your right . I think they were eying on our US aircraft carrier near South Korea

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Curt March 29, 2011 at 2:53 am

It could just be because their Pacific fleet is so feeble they wanted some reinforcements. Or because the Slava in their Pacific Fleet needs to go back for an overhaul.

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blight March 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Russia is hedging bets before they get screwed in the Far East again. Losing two fleets to the IJA was probably humiliating, and the hypothetical possibility of not having enough combat power to protect Vladvostok has to be on someone's mind.

For a second I thought it was a Kirov-class missile cruiser, but I guess they're kind of related.

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Jacob March 28, 2011 at 9:53 pm

You mean the IJN. The only thing the IJA had that could float were a bunch of troopships =P

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blight March 28, 2011 at 11:20 pm

Surprised that the IJA even had ships? Oh well. Thanks for catching it before the inevitable "omg you made a typo" brigade.

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noone March 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm

yes a big pipeline through serbia, greece, to russia afaik.

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roland March 28, 2011 at 8:40 pm

I hope they are drilling for a pipleline and not planting bomb on the seabed to cause any earthquake or tsunami.

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Nadnerbus March 29, 2011 at 1:35 am

are you for real?

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roland March 28, 2011 at 4:19 pm

I hope it's nothing serious. I have a feeling they were eyeing on our US aircraft carrier in the pacific near South Korea

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blight March 28, 2011 at 5:03 pm

Naval bombers with ALCMs, like the Russians had always planned on using.

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matt March 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm

This ship pulled into Norfolk back in 89 I believe. I toured it and traded a zippo and some marlboro lights for 3 packs of horrible russian cigarettes, several soviet propaganda books and a dress hat. Still have the hammer and sickle pin from the hat, keep it on my desk at work. Sadly many do not recognize what it stood for, and I work on a Navy base…

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Robotzilla March 28, 2011 at 6:59 pm

What was your impression of the ship Matt?

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matt March 28, 2011 at 10:10 pm

The sailors stank, and the aft watch stander would not trade me his AK for a real live $50 bill. He could've probably owned a small farm for a $50. Everything russian I ever dealt with was nowhere near as sleek and sexy as American stuff. I did my Navy time on a cruiser, and it was just dead sexy.

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Guest March 29, 2011 at 7:44 am

I've been on an AN-124 once. Them dudes smelled like hot cabbage and dead fish on a hot humid day. The plane was a little dingy too…

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roland March 28, 2011 at 8:28 pm

The hammer and sickle (☭) is a part of communist symbolism and its usage indicates an association with Communism, a Communist party, or a Communist state. I hope he did'nt call you comrade. (kidding)

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matt March 28, 2011 at 10:53 pm

As a hat emblem it just represents a failed attempt at world domination. I still remember, better dead than red! They are NOT our friends

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Updopler March 29, 2011 at 5:57 pm

I want to say I was on board a Slava that came through Pearl Harbor around 94' Fleet week maybe? The ship was freshly painted, I mean wet in places. The regular sailors were prostituting themselves for anything of value, hats, uniform items blah, blah, blah.
I felt mostly sad for them, not respect. The bridge was not built for anyone over 6 ft tall. I had to slouch and duck everywhere (the bridge was all they showed us) For a new ship I felt as though I was stepping back into the 60's technologically.
Those missiles are loaded manually. There are tracks in the deck to move a trolly between the aft blockhouse and the launchers.
There was one hatch open and pushing air out, portside aft of the bridge, smelled terrible. My wife at the time even commented and asked if all ships smelled that way. I took her on a US Flagged afterwards to prove to her they don't
I have been on a number of foreign flagged vessels and none of them smelled anything like this newly flagged CIS ship. Dosent mean they can't shoot, just have questionable bathing habits according to western standards.

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Chimp March 31, 2011 at 5:35 am

That reminds me a lot of PLA bases in China in the late eighties and even up to the mid nineties. The soldiers were unwashed and malnourished. Their uniforms were dirty, didn't fit, and they wore grubby sandshoes with no socks.
Nary a weapon in sight, too… obviously you don't want to trust peasants with firearms.
On the other hand, visitors could pay to play with darn near anything.
As you say, the feeling was one of sadness.

All changed now, of course.

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noone March 29, 2011 at 2:03 am

they are just scared you will make a no flight zone like in lybia and then bomb them into YOUR kind of democracy ;)

thats what im hearing from many different nations.

its not real hate. its your politics and actions.

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Tom March 29, 2011 at 4:45 am

One can hope that the USN will buy DARPAs LRASM.

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Tim March 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm

One single ship, no matter how hi-tech or armed to the teeth, is not going to cut it in a modern naval battle. This one is not even stealthy. Why are we shaking in our boots when even the Japanese Navy can still give it a run for their money? Russian armed forces are now just a shadow of the long gone Soviet Union.

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Tom March 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm

good post! same thought here…

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Mike March 29, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Attacking an aircraft carrier is a prelude to an all out nuclear war and whomever is in the White House has to be willing to pull the trigger immediately as when the other side takes out your fleet carriers, you don't have the 2-3 weeks to decide on what to do next.

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devildog7885 March 30, 2011 at 12:01 am

wow what a replie. hiroshima and nagasaki. if there was no bomb to shed the light on the imperial military of Japan. there would of been an invasion of the main isle of japan and since there beliefs at the time was no surrender the act itself was considered dishonorable and the civilians actually believed we americans eat dead japanese the population would either died fighting or committed mass sucide for honors sake as they did on Sipain and okinawa to name a couple . then you would be screaming we committed geonicde in japan . Learn your history or go visit japan and take alook at the suicide cliffs were thousands died.

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roland March 30, 2011 at 5:37 am

I am a christian and I love my country (USA). I hate to see my country fall against an enemy attack. I do think we should look at where we at, at the world stage. It seems that there is conflct brewing in the middle east and southeast asia. At this could be spiritually link. Faith in God, prayers and belief could make a big difference if not here on earth maybe on the after life.

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William C. March 30, 2011 at 8:00 am

Apologize? Lets see them apologize for starting the war against us and every evil deed they committed during the conflict. Things like killing PoWs for sport come to mind. The atomic bombs spared hundreds of thousands of American soldiers and marines being killed fighting for every inch on the Japanese mainland. Far more Japanese are likely to have died too.

Don't want the US Navy patrolling the world, lets see how your country does protecting commercial shipping. Without the US Navy every country like Iran or North Korea could strangle shipping routes.

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blight March 30, 2011 at 8:33 am

Tell it to the millions of Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos, Malaysians and Pacific Islanders who died under the thumb of Japan. But mostly Chinese. However, the Japanese basically were doing what the Europeans did for the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries to the hapless "natives" in faraway lands…

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roland March 31, 2011 at 12:37 am

It could probably nothing. I just don't trust the rooskies, whenever they have a naval activities.

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devildog7885 March 31, 2011 at 1:44 am

this cruiser although Evil Looking would be dispatched by a carriers screen. big threat would still be the sub's that lurk the oceans. diesel electric sub's are almost impossible to detect when running on batteries. depending on the size of the sub you would not know till it was too late.

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devildog7885 March 31, 2011 at 1:52 am

sometime when i think about it the smaller the carrier the more survivable it would be pretty hard to hide one of those ships if we entered into naval combat of the likes of WW2. we have not done ship to ship fighting since and battle wagons would hold up better in a dog fight like that. most ships hulls are designed for missile impacts rather than naval guns as evident with the USS Cole and USS stark. a heavy cruiser with heavy naval guns would wreak havoc with today's naval ships!.

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Chimp March 31, 2011 at 5:37 am

I agree with apologizing to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Wrong choice of targets…

McArthur should have started with Tokyo, then possibly moved on to Kyoto.

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Old Crow April 11, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Slava's are old, SS-N-12's are older, Russian maintenance is a joke. Pure window dressing.

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zippy May 21, 2011 at 6:04 pm

I was lucky enough to visit the Marshal Ustinov when it visited with two other soviet ships in 1989 in Norfolk, As an Intelligence Specialist in the Navy at the time it was a great experience. During their stay they visited a lot of places off base. I ran into them when they were visiting an el.electronics outlet. I can't remember the place but it was like a Best Buy but not.

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Scout3_297 March 30, 2011 at 12:58 pm

AO = Area of Operations

PA = Public Affairs

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