Modernized Ka-27M Helicopters Join the Russian Navy

 - March 22, 2017, 10:46 AM
Shown, a Russian navy Ka-27PS factory-standard machine. The Navy's Ka-27PL antisubmarine versions are getting an upgrade after 30 years. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

Crews from the Northern Fleet of the Russian Navy have begun training on Kamov Ka-27M multipurpose helicopters. These have been modernized from the original Ka-27PL anti-submarine versions that entered service beginning in 1981. They feature a glass cockpit; a new radar; high-capacity, open-architecture avionics; and secure data exchange systems.

Current plans call for approximately 50 of the 80 remaining Ka-27PLs to undergo modernization. About six Ka-27Ms have already been delivered to the navy’s center for combat usage, flight personnel retraining and type conversion in Yeisk on the Black Sea coast.

The first Ka-27M (side number 14, registration RF-19190) was handed over to the navy in late December 2016, following acceptance trials the previous year. The ceremony took place at the KumAPP factory in Kumertau, where all rotorcraft of the Kamov Ka-27/28/29/31/32 series have been built.

Work on the future Ka-27M began in 1998, when the Kamov design house modified one of its operational prototypes into a technology demonstrator. A second was reworked early in the new century. One of those underwent modernization to the latest standard in 2008. Following assessment and trials of the industry-operated examples, the Russian defense ministry awarded Russian Helicopters an initial contract in 2013, calling for eight Ka-27PLs to be modernized into the Ka-27M standard. Delivery dates, however, have been repeatedly postponed due to late arrivals of helicopters at KumAPP and various technical shortcomings discovered during testing.

Notwithstanding, the Russian defense ministry awarded KumAPP a second order in 2014, for modernization of 14 more Ka-27PLs. Reflecting delays with the first batch, their deliveries have also been postponed, from 2016 to some time this year. The sum of the initial and follow-on order is estimated at Rouble 8 billion, which, by the 2013 exchange rates, renders the cost of one helicopter modernization at little over $10 million.

The digital systems on the Ka-27M are similar to those on the Ka-52 Alligator and its navalized version, the Ka-52K Katran. Several helicopters can exchange data in real time among themselves, their warships and control centers on shore.

The Ka-27M’s mission equipment has been integrated by Phazotron-NIIR, a member in the KRET concern of Rostec Corporation. It includes modern hydro acoustics and magnetic anomaly analysis, radio emission detection and recognition, information processing and other systems. The Kopyo-A radar with an active phased array replaces the older Osminog-PL radar that had a parabolic antenna with mechanical beam steering.

Phazotron-NIIR describes the Kopyo-A as a “multi-mode radar for combat, range is quoted as 250km. In air-surface mode this radar can detect small vehicle and boat targets. In air surveillance mode, it can detect fighter-size targets. In terrain mapping mode (with or without beam sharpening), it can track up to 10 targets with precise distance measuring. Other working modes include terrain following and collision avoidance in adverse weather conditions, feeding targeting data to weapons systems and so on.