The Kirov Airship is the most iconic Soviet unit, which is a slow-moving zeppelin capable of causing mass destruction and are also tough to boot.
Kirovs, named after the great general of the Second Great War Sergei Kirov, are an iconic image recognized by all; representing the overwhelming firepower and intimidating presence of the Soviet Union. Slow, powerful and incredibly durable. A fleet of Kirovs is often a sign of doom for any commander. Only mass amounts of anti-aircraft fire is capable of downing these blimps. Their role in the invasion of the United States brought a quick success in favor of the Soviets.
With an endless supply of bombs and painfully slow top speed, the Kirov Airship is almost exactly the same as in vanilla Red Alert 2 and Yuri's Revenge (except for the increased cost and more importantly, the lack of an announcement of its arrival on the battlefield), and is the most powerful air unit in the Soviet arsenal - and also the slowest. The Kirov drops highly destructive bombs directly onto its targets to annihilate anything below, and its nigh impregnable armour can soak up a large deal of punishment.
The main purpose of the Kirov is base destruction. Its bombs are so powerful it will take only two to three to destroy the most well-armoured structures, and a single Kirov can raze an entire base within seconds if left unattended. It's ineffective, however, against anything that moves, as even the slowest ground units can just simply walk or drive away from under it. The Kirov is also unsuitable for a defensive role, as it's way to slow to intercept attackers and its bombs are quite likely to damage your own forces.
The main drawback of the Kirov Airship is its awful speed. Coupled with the point-blank range of its only weapon, the Kirov is utterly helpless against any mobile anti-air resistance, especially from other air units. While its tough armour can buy it some time, if intercepted en route the Kirov will likely not make it into the enemy base. Thus, it's a good idea to always escort it with other units. A strike force could be used to quickly destroy anti-air units or defenses before the Kirov's arrival, leaving the enemy base helpless.
Against an unaware player the Kirov can be used in mischievous ways, such as sneaking in one through an undefended part of their base. This will give the Kirov enough time to take out key buildings and severely cripple, if not outright eliminate, the enemy.
The Kirov Airship can also be used as a psychological weapon. An unprepared opponent might panic and scramble to stop the Kirov from approaching their base upon detecting it, distracting them and potentially making them waste resources on anti-air defenses.
Kirovs controlled by the AI has the following attack patterns:
- 1 targeting the closest structure/defense
- 1 targeting power plants
- 1 targeting special defenses (Gap Generator, Iron Guard, Signal Inhibitor and Plasmerizer)
- 2 targeting superweapons
- 2 targeting the closest structure/defense
Holy...! Where'd those things come from?!
—An Allied soldier witnessing Kirov Airships during Operation: Red Dawn Rising
- Kirovs open the Russian invasion of the United States, being both a controllable unit in Bleed Red and an enemy unit in Red Dawn Rising.
- In Peace Treaty, several Kirov Airships will be given to player after Psychic Beacon is built.
- Kirov Airship becomes buildable in Think Different. For the Soviets, it becomes buildable in Dragonstorm (campaign) / Thunder God (cooperative).
- In The Lunatic, the Russians use an unmanned, remote-controlled Kirov to destroy a Psychic Beacon mind-controlling Chinese forces near it. Volkov and Chitzkoi must escort the Kirov past Chinese lines until it can reach the Psychic Beacon, at which point it'll be detonated, crashing down and destroying the Psychic Beacon.
- In Juggernaut, it is notable that when the enemy's second wave of Kirov Airship formations advance half way, a single Kirov Airship will enter the battlefield from the right side of the map and attempt to attack the Congress.
- In Power Hunger, Kirovs are unavailable to both the player's Russian forces, although the Latin Confederation ally and enemy Chinese forces still uses them.
- Kirovs are notably absent in Earthrise, due to not being adapted to the low gravity and lack of atmosphere of the Moon.