Ka-52 Attack Helicopter Enters Russian Service

 - April 9, 2015, 7:28 AM
The Ka-52 twin-seat development of the Ka-50 attack helicopter is entering service with the Russian Army, and development of a navalized version has started. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

Russian air force officers this month started conducting acceptance trials on the first batch of Ka-52 attack helicopters that are being completed at the Russian Helicopters’ Progress plant in Arsenyev on Russia’s Pacific coast. The Ka-52 is a two-seat development of the Ka-50, which has been in service since the turn of the century. Progress is scheduled to deliver 16 Ka-52s to Russian Army Aviation this year.

According to Yuri Denisenko, the plant’s general director, the framework contract between the Russian Helicopters and the Russian defense ministry calls for shipments of 146 Ka-52s by 2020. The Ka-52 has a side-by-side layout and revised avionics set, with focus on electronic reconnaissance and firing with guided missiles at stand-off ranges. The heavily armored Ka-50 was primarily intended for “over the battlefield” operations using both guided and unguided air-launched munitions.

Even though the Ka-50 came first in the Russian armed forces' fly-off with the Mi-28, the customer eventually chose to procure both types. The developers—Kamov and Mil design bureaus, respectively—were asked to introduce modifications so as to specialize their designs on particular set of missions and thus exclude mission overlapping for the Ka-52 and Mi-28N.

During his recent visit to the Progress Plant, deputy defense minister Yuri Borisov told Russian journalists that the MoD has instructed Russian Helicopters to continue development of the navalized Ka-52K Katran This version is first intended to equip the Mistral class of landing ships that Russia ordered from France. Although delivery of the two already-completed ships—the Vladivostok and the Sebastopol—remains uncertain due to the disagreement about Russian actions in Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, the Russian navy also intends to fly the Ka-52K from other ships, including locally made landing and shore-assault craft.

Following initial flight trials of Ka-52 prototype with side number 061 on the Admiral Kulakov large-assault ship in 2011, the Ka-52K development prototype first flew in mid-January of this year. It differs from the baseline Ka-52 in having foldable rotor blades and shorter stub wings to minimize hangar space. A new environmental control system provides greater comfort for the pilots during long overwater missions.

The Radio Electronic Technologies Concern (Russian acronym KRET) acts as prime contractor for a revised avionics and mission fit on the navalized version. According to KRET, the Ka-52K prototype has proved capable of operating in any weather, day or night. It carries the Arbalet radar and the Okhotnik video system for TV-guided missiles. A specially developed electro optical and laser designation system (believed to be the GOES-451) can guide laser beam-riding missiles such as the Vikhr and its deriratives. The Ka-52K keeps some of Ka-52 systems and weapons, including the Vitebsk self-protection system and a 30-mm 2A42 cannon.

KRET recently declared its intent to “expand performance” of the Ka-52K by outfitting it with an improved millimeter band radar. This would double the target-detection range “to almost 200 km.” An improved Ka-52K would be able to fire the Tactical Missile Corporation Kh-31 supersonic and Kh-35 subsonic anti-ship missiles.