The Varyag, a Russian Slava-class missile cruiser dubbed ‘the killer of aircraft carriers,’ has started a series of live-firing exercises in the Pacific for the first time since a recent overhaul, a fleet spokesman said Monday.
Varyag, the flagship of the Russian Pacific Fleet, was commissioned in Russia’s Pacific Fleet in 1989 and re-entered service in early 2008 following a major refit that lasted almost a year.
“The Varyag’s crew is scheduled to conduct a series of live firing drills against ground, surface, and air targets,” said Captain 1st Rank Roman Martov.
He said the exercise was aimed at checking the performance of all on-board weapons systems.
“The cruiser is equipped with a powerful array of missile systems, torpedoes and artillery systems,” Martov said, adding that NATO experts had dubbed Russian combat ships of this class “the killer of aircraft carriers,” as it can carry 1,000kg of high-explosives, or a tactical nuclear warhead out to a range of 300 nautical miles.
The Slava-class missile cruiser was designed as a surface strike ship with some anti-air and ASW capability. The sixteen SS-N-12 Sandbox nuclear-capable supersonic anti-ship missiles are mounted in four pairs on either side of the superstructure, giving the ship a distinctive appearance.
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.
Two other ships of this class, the Moskva and Marshal Ustinov, are in service with Russia’s Black Sea Fleet and Northern Fleet, respectively.