Ka-50 HOKUM / Black Shark / Werewolf
The KA-50 is a state-of-the-art and powerful battle helicopter which is in limited service with the Russian Air Force. This aircraft is not fielded. Only a handful of prototypes exist, and it has not yet been approved for full-scale production. There are two versions of the Hokum. The Ka-50 Hokum-A is a single seat close support helicopter and the Ka-52 Hokum-B two seat trainer and combat version.
In December 1976 the Soviet government issued a requirement for a new combat helicopter which would succeed the main Soviet assault chopper, the Mil' Mi-24. Being designed as a multi-purpose "battlebus" capable of carrying a detail of troops, the Mi-24 could not meet the demands of the day in full. What the Soviet Army needed was a dedicated attack helicopter.
The Soviet Union's two helicopter design bureaux named after Mikhail L. Mil' and Nikolay I. Kamov joined the race to develop such a rotorcraft. For many years the Kamov OKB, which until then had specialised in naval and utility helicopters, had stuck to an unconventional layout with contra-rotating rotors. After careful consideration this was chosen for Kamov's first army chopper bearing the in-house designation V-80. Another departure from usual attack helicopter design practice was that the V-80 was a single-seater; the weapons control system was automated to such an extent as to allow the weapons operator to be eliminated. For the first time in the world the pilot was provided with an ejection system increasing the chances of survival in the event of a shootdown.
The first prototype took to the air on 17th June 1982. The trials proceeded in parallel with the competing Mi-28, so in effect the two companies had a flyoff. Eventually the contra-rotating Kamov was declared the winner in 1995 and ordered into production as the Ka-50 (popularly known as the Black Shark).
Ka-50 "Black Shark" is a single-seat attack helicopter for destroying armored vehicles, slow-speed air targets and manpower on the battlefield. The Mi-28N and Kamov Ka-50 are competing to fulfil the Russian Army Aviation requirement for a night-capable anti-tank helicopter, a replacement to the Mi-24 created 25 years ago.
The Ka-50 has appeared in only a few variants and mostly developmental types that tried to shore up limitations in the original design. The V-80 represented the originals prototype designation and was followed by two V-80Sh-1 "Shturmovik-1" pre-production models. A night capable Ka-50 appeared in the form of the Ka-50N and Ka-50Sh types. The Ka-50-2 was to be an export product while the Ka-50-2 "Erdogan" was in competition for Turkish sale and represented a joint Kamov/Israeli attempt featuring a twin-tandem cockpit. The Ka-52 "Alligator" was a revised Ka-50 design with twin-seating in a side-by-side format and was an all-weather, day / night capable attack system.
It should be noted that originally, in an attempt to fool Western observers, the Ka-50 had a second cockpit "painted" onto the fuselage. This worked well as the Ka-50 was reported by the Americans to be of a two-seat tandem cockpit design, with a pilot seated in the rear in a raised position over the gunner in front. Obviously, the Ka-50 series has never included a second crewmember but the DoD images shown below showcase this second cockpit position.
The airframe features perfect aerodynamic outlines, mid-set stub wing, retractable three-leg landing gear and empennage of a fixed-wing aircraft type. The equally tapered, short, stubby, weapon-carrying wings with end plates are mounted on the streamlined fuselage, which tapers to the front and rear. The fuselage, which is flat-bottomed except for the underbelly gun pod and sensor, features a flat plated glassed-in canopy. The tail is thick with a tapering tail boom and back-tapered tail fin with a square tip. The tail flats are high-mounted on the tail boom with end plates, and located forward of the fin. Twin turboshaft engines are mounted high on the fuselage above the stubby wings, with semicircular air intakes and exhausts that are turned outward.
Coaxial Ka-50 helicopter has two three-blade rotors of 14.5-m diameter each. The polymeric composite blade is attached to the hub by a torsion bar. The coaxial, contrarotating, three-blade main rotors are widely separated with swept-back tips, and there is no tail rotor. The pilot cockpit is fully armored. The emergency pilot escape system, comprising an ejection seat, saves the pilot within the entire flight speed and altitude range. A set of improved survivability means allows Ka-50 to attack successfully the specified targets and to survive under intensive fire counteraction.
The helicopter has a number of unique characteristics including single seat to increase combat and flight characteristics and reduce operational costs. It was designed for remote operations, and not to need ground maintenance facilities for 2 weeks. The airframe is 35% composite materials with a structural central 1m 2 keel beam of kevlar/ nomex that protects critical systems and ammunition. The fully armored pilot's cabin can withstand 23-mm gunfire, and the cockpit glass 12.7-mm MG gunfire. The Zvezda K-37-800 pilot ejection system functions at any altitude, and enables a successful ejection at low altitude and maximum speed.
Numerous weapons options for the helicopter are achieved by arranging a movable high-speed firing gun starboard of the helicopter, and by six available external wing stores with different combination of anti-tank missiles, rockets, "air-to-air" missiles, gun ammunition of a container type and bombs of various caliber. Total weight of the weapons on the wing stores is 2,300 kg. External stores are mounted on underwing external hardpoints. Each wing has two hardpoints for a total of four stations. A typical mix for targeting armor formations is 12x AT-16 ATGMs, 500x 30-mm cannon rounds, and 2x 20-round pods of 80-mm folding fin unguided rockets. The 30-mm cannon is the same as on the BMP-2. It also carries guided air-to-air missiles IGLA-V (Needle C), already extensively tested and sold to buyers abroad.
Ka-50 "Black Shark" helicopter were armed with 12 supersonic anti-tank missiles with standardized seekers against armored, ground-based and air targets, movable rapid-firing 30-mm gun having 450-rounds of ammunition, as well as with bombs and other destruction means. Fully armored cockpit of Ka-50 safely protects the pilot against armour-piercing 12.7-mm bullets and fragmentations of 23-mm projectiles. In case of oil system damage the Ka-50 is capable to continue combat mission for 30 minutes.
The Shark's avionics is largely in line with what is the norm for one-seater fighters and ground attack jets. The on-board avionics suite ensures helicopter piloting and control including the use of satellite navigational system, 24 hours a day, in anytime of the year. The observation, search and sighting systems comprising TV, laser and IR equipment are capable to detect targets and to fire the full arsenal of weapons in day and night conditions. It's most remarkable feature is a remote targeting system with a capability to provide for a sudden deadly attack from a distance that rules out direct visual contact with the target. The firing computer will turn the aircraft to keep the gun on target. It is equipped with downlink to provide information from the battlefield. The targeting and control system and weaponry enable accurate target engagement at ranges of up to 10km.
The KA-50 features unique maneuvrability and operating characteristics due to the contra-rotating co-axial rotors. The coaxial counter-rotating rotor system negates the need for a tail rotor and its drive system. Because of this, this aircraft is unaffected by wind strength and direction, has an unlimited hovering turn rate, and gives a smaller profile and acoustic signature, while allowing a 10-15% greater power margin. The HOKUM is fully aerobatic. It can perform loops, roll, and "the funnel", where the aircraft will maintain a concentrated point of fire while flying circles of varying altitude, elevation, and airspeed around the target.
In January 2001 combat tests of two Ka-50 attack helicopters in Chechnya which are being operated for the Joint Armed Forces (JAF) came to an end. The "Black Sharks" had destroyed 30 large-scale objectives (large groups of Chechen rebels, clusters of vehicles and bases in hard-to-reach mountain areas). The specialists who perform the tests noted the high reliability of the helicopter, its ability to perform combat missions at altitudes above 5,000 m that is beyond the power of the Mi-24 fire support helicopters. Having high-performance electronic equipment on-board the "Black Sharks" were able to easily detect and destroy the detected targets.
The combat operation of the Ka-50 in Chechnya confirmed that helicopters of the coaxial circuit feel great not only over the sea, but also in the mountains, where side wind and adverse weather conditions can destroy even an experienced pilot. "Black Shark" turned out very tenacious. In one of the sorties, the crew shot at the militants from a low altitude, as a result of which a large fragment fell into one of the blades. The helicopter without any problems flew to the Khankala airfield, where the damaged section was simply cut off. After that, he made his way to the point of basing. In general, the pilots literally fell in love with the Ka-50. Powerful cabin bookings and the presence of a bailout system give crews confidence that, combined with high flight automation and excellent maneuverability, have a very positive effect on the morale of pilots.
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