The Kiev class aircraft carriers (also known as Project 1143 or as the Krechyet (Gyrfalcon) class) were the first class of fixed-wing aircraft carriers built in the Soviet Union.
First laid down in 1970 the Kiev class was partially based on a design for a full-deck carrier proposed in Project Orel. Originally the Soviet Navy wanted a supercarrier similar to the American Kitty Hawk-class. However, the smaller Kiev class design was chosen because it was considered to be more cost effective.
Unlike American or British carriers, the Kiev class is a combination of a cruiser and a carrier. In the Soviet Navy this class of ships was specifically designated as a heavy aviation cruiser rather than just an aircraft carrier. Although the ships were designed with an island superstructure to starboard, with a 2/3 length angled flight deck, the foredeck was taken up with the heavy missile armament. The intended mission of the Kiev class was support for strategic missile submarines, other surface ships and naval aviation; it was capable of engaging in anti-aircraft, anti-submarine and surface warfare.
A total of four Kiev class carriers were built and commissioned, serving in the Soviet and then Russian Navy. The first three were decommissioned, of which, one was scrapped and two were sold as recreational pieces to China. The fourth ship, Admiral Gorshkov, was sold to the Indian Navy in 2004, and after years of extensive modifications and refurbishment, is currently in active service.