The Ka-52 Alligator helicopter was created on the basis of the Ka-50 Black Shark attack helicopter. Unlike the latter, it is a two-seater. The Kamov Ka-52M Alligator is designed to destroy tanks, armored and unarmored military equipment, manpower, helicopters and other aircraft of the enemy at the forefront and in tactical depth, in all weather conditions and at any time of the day. It can provide reconnaissance of targets, target allocation and hardware target designation for interacting helicopters and command posts of the ground forces, as well as fire support for the landing, patrol and escort of military convoys. The Ka-52 is equipped with devices for reducing visibility, electronic defense system and active countermeasures.
At first glance, the helicopter has a very serious advantage over many other machines of this class, including the Mi-28N (but not the Mi-28NM). He received a millimeter-range front-view radar complex “Crossbow”, which makes it possible to detect obstacles and ground targets and hit the latter more effectively. And also to fly at extremely low altitudes, in the mode of terrain mapping. Two VK-2500 gas turbine engines provide the ability to fly at altitudes above 5,000 m. The static ceiling is 4000 m, which allows the helicopter to take off and land in hot climates and highlands. Also, the helicopter can be used in cold climates and in icing conditions. New airborne defense system and sighting station, which provides a large range of detection and recognition of targets.
High crew protection includes an armored crew cabin and a unique ejection system. The rescue system on the Ka-52 is unique; it is not used on any other helicopter except the Ka-50. It is based on the K-37 ejection seat. When the pilot realizes that he needs to urgently leave the helicopter, he puts the system into action, at that moment the blades are shot off, a hole is burned with a special pyro cord in the cockpit glazing, and then the ejection rocket engine fires. For a special halyard, he pulls the pilot out of the cockpit, after which a parachute opens at a safe distance. This system allows crew to catapult almost from the ground and from an extremely low altitude, on which attack helicopters are usually used.
As part of the modernization of the Ka-52 project, an increase in the combat power of the machine is expected. On the “Alligator” will be applied a new airborne defense complex, which will significantly increase the helicopter's protection against damage by guided air-to-air and air-to-air missiles; additional generator for auxiliary power plant, which will increase its reliability; and folding blades, which will allow the machine to be stored in hangars. It is also planned to increase the mass of the payload, which will expand the tactical capabilities of the helicopter.
The need for modernization was recognized in Russia itself. One of the problems was clearly visible to everyone: it is archaic air-to-surface weapons. This, in particular, is an anti-tank missile of the Ataka complex with a maximum range of about six kilometers and a radio command guidance system. Such a complex can not always provide effective destruction of targets in difficult combat conditions. It can be said simply: it is outdated.
In 2017, a photo appeared online of the "Syrian" Ka-52, armed with the anti-tank guided missile "Whirlwind-1". Such a complex, of course, is better than “Attack”, but it was good in the 1980s, when it was developed. Now that the United States is switching to the AGM-179 JAGM ATGM with the implementation of the “fire-and-forget” principle, the missile that needs to be guided by the laser beam can hardly be called modern. In difficult combat conditions, this is not only a big load on the crew, but also a significant risk for the helicopter to be shot down, since until the moment the target is hit, the machine cannot perform sharp maneuvers without fear of disrupting the capture. By the way, this once again demonstrates how "strange" the Ka-50 concept was, using these same "Whirlwinds". The upgraded Ka-52M helicopter will have much greater capabilities to engage ground and air targets than the basic version.
In 2018, Defense Blog reported that Egypt's military was unhappy with export Ka-52s and wanted to buy more Apaches. “The new Ka-52 has technical problems with the power plant, avionics, navigation systems and night vision systems. In hot climatic conditions, the Ka-52 engine significantly loses power in different flight modes,” Defense Blog wrote. There was an alternative assessment - according to the Egyptian general Tarek Saad Zaglyul, the Russian machine was not inferior to the Apache.
As Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation Alexei Krivoruchko said in May 2019, in 2020 the military department is going to conclude a contract with the Russian Helicopters for the supply of 114 Ka-52M helicopters. The head of Russian Helicopters Andrei Boginsky then in turn specified that the Syrian experience is taken into account when developing the machine, the helicopter will receive new target detection and recognition systems, and the range of its weapons will increase. By means of destruction Ka-52M, the general director of the holding noted, will be unified with helicopters of the Mi family. Compared to the Ka-52 helicopter security will increase.
The upgraded Ka-52M combat helicopter (Alligator) will gain more opportunities for using weapons on targets on the ground and in the air, the Russian Helicopters press service said on 28 May 2019. "Work is underway related to an even greater increase in the range of detection and recognition of targets and, accordingly, an increase in the possibility of using weapons to work both on the ground and in the air," the press service quoted the head of the holding, Andrey Boginsky, on improvements in the new machine. According to Boginsky, on behalf of the Minister of Defense, work was carried out to modernize the optoelectronic systems for the Ka-52M, which today has already proved its effectiveness. "Also in cooperation, the issue of increasing the armor protection of the machine and updating the energy supply system is being actively worked out. The second task is the unification of aviation weapons with our other Mi family helicopters," said the general director of the holding.
The latest Russian attack helicopter Ka-52M will receive an airborne cruise missile with a range of up to 100 km. This was announced on 15 February 2020 by TASS a source in the military-industrial complex. “The upgraded Ka-52M helicopter will be able to carry the latest aircraft cruise missiles (KR)“ product 305, ”the agency’s interlocutor said. He specified that“ this helicopter KR can effectively hit any ground targets, including enemy armored vehicles, at ranges up to 100 km." The interlocutor noted that the Ka-52M "received an improved sighting and navigation system and a new cabin avionics." The machine also has a revised screw group. According to TASS in March 2019, another source in the defense industry said that the latest Russian-made guided missile "product 305" at that time was tested on a Mi-28NM helicopter in combat conditions in Syria.
There is an option of installing over the cockpit of an aiming radar and an over-the-gun surveillance and radar warning. Overhead radar appeared on the Mi-28 in Soviet times in the 80s. And she appeared much earlier than on the Apaches. And they probably abandoned it because there were no weapons under it. First, the radar dramatically increases the range of the weapon. Anyone, at least "shot-forgot," at least "shot-hit." In the "optics" it is hard to see what is on the ground, even with an infrared channel. The “attack” quite flies 7-8 kilometers, but the helicopter cannot “make out” something at such a distance. The radar pushes the "horizon" by 20 kilometers. Secondly, the radar makes it possible to carry out automatic target recognition and tracking with greater accuracy and stability. The empty "nose" of the machine is great for placing a radar in it. The Mi-28 has a rotary gun in its nose, so there is no way to place a radar there.
The Russian Helicopters holding (part of the Rostec state corporation) has assembled the first two prototypes of the modernized Ka-52M Alligator helicopters, the first deliveries of serial machines may begin as early as 2022. This was reported to journalists on Wednesday in the holding's press service 11 February 2021. "Today, flight tests are taking place on the territory of the Mil and Kamov National Center for Helicopter Engineering, the planned completion date for development work is 2022. We meet this deadline and, taking into account the duration of the production cycle, are ready to start assembling Ka-52M helicopters now to ensure first deliveries of serial machines next year, "- the press service quotes the words of the managing director of AAK" Progress "Yuri Denisenkov.
As part of the development work on the modernization of the Ka-52, the Syrian experience was taken into account: the helicopter should receive new power supply and target detection systems, the vehicle's security will increase, the detection and recognition range of both ground and air targets will increase, thereby increasing the range of weapons use.
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