The Russian Defense Ministry is planning to refit three mothballed nuclear-powered Kirov-class missile cruisers in a major boost for the Russian Navy's combat strength, Izvestia newspaper said on Wednesday.
The Admiral Nakhimov, Admiral Lazarev and Admiral Ushakov nuclear missile cruisers were built in the Soviet era but have been decommissioned and laid up in dock for over a decade. The only active Kirov class cruiser is the Pyotr Veliky, the flagship of Russia's Northern Fleet.
Izvestia cited a source in the Russian defense industry as saying the overhaul would include the hull and nuclear power plant repairs as well as a significant modernization of the ships' electronics and weaponry.
"All these measures will allow us to extend the service life of these ships until 2030-2040," the source said.
The ships' armament will get a major boost, with installation of advanced multi-module missile systems capable of firing a wide range of missiles and torpedoes, including P-800 Yakhont (SS-N-26) anti-ship cruise missiles.
Each cruiser will have a total missile carrying capacity of 300 missiles, making the ships among the best armed in the world.
After the refit, the Kirov class cruisers will most likely be deployed with Russia's Northern and Pacific fleets as part of large task forces set up to carry out a variety of combat missions - from "hunting" the adversary's aircraft carriers and submarines to massive land assaults.
Work on the Admiral Nakhimov has already started and the cruiser is expected to re-enter service with the Russian Navy in 2015, according to sources quoted in the media.