The ‘Alligator’ flew: the prototype of Russian Ka-52 made a successful flight
WARSAW, (BM) – The Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation announced the flight of the prototype of the Ka-52M helicopter, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Defence24.
It is a modernized variant of this attack helicopter, combining completely new capabilities, such as drone control and AESA radar, with solutions developed for the Ka-52K marine version. This year, it is planned to conclude an agreement for the supply of machines upgraded to the new standard.
As stated by Andrei Boginski, general director of the Russian Helicopters concern, “on the recommendation of the Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, last year we started development works on the modernization of the Ka-52 helicopter, based on the experience of combat use, which today made it possible to create a new machine with improved performance and extended capabilities. The new Ka-52M missile armament significantly increased the target range, but was also made uniform with the armament of the newest Mi-28NM helicopter.”
He also added that “in fact, the variant of the Ka-52M helicopter, flown on August 10, 2020, was based on extensive experience from the operation of these machines during combat operations in Syria. Its armament was standardized with the modernized Mi-28NM machines, 100 of which were contracted in last year”.
The new standard of weapons is primarily the laser-guided 9K120 ATAKA missiles with a range of 6 km and 9M123 Chrozantiema-WM missiles with a range of 10 km, already used on both types of machines, but also new, modular Hermes-A missiles with a range of up to 20 km.
Above all, however, the changes and modifications applied to the Ka-52M include the new, unified Argument-2000 digital avionics system, supporting e.g. new sensors, data exchange system, digital control and helmet displays. Instead of the old, spherical optoelectronic head, the new OES-520 module is used, which is not only much smaller and lighter, but also has a greater range, detection efficiency and improved stabilization.
It comes from the marine version of the Ka-52K, similarly to the folded main rotor blades used in the Ka-52M, which facilitate the transfer of machines by air over long distances.
The modified helicopter also received an additional APU unit and a more powerful de-icing system for the rotor blades, which is to enable operation also in arctic conditions. The Ka-52M uses an electronic warfare and missile defense system, designated the L418 Monoblock, the elements of which are already used on Ka-52E machines for Egypt. In this variant, however, it is a comprehensive solution that protects the helicopter to the full extent.
In the official statement on the prototype flights, the Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, Denis Manturov, also emphasized the introduction of the possibility of cooperation between the modernized helicopter and unmanned aerial vehicles, and the use of radar with active scanning.
This indicates that the new W006 Riezec radar station was finally selected, instead of modernizing the Arbalet radar used so far. A more ambitious radar variant will detect tank-sized targets from a distance of up to 45 km. Ultimately, the Ka-52M will also be able to steer reconnaissance and attack UAVs from the deck, similar to the American AH-64E Apache Guardian.
Currently, the prototype is undergoing factory tests, but is soon to be submitted for state testing. Before the end of the year, a second prototype will be ordered. This will allow for quick evaluation, certification and contracting. Already last year, when the Ka-52M program was officially announced, the signing of a contract for supplies for the Russian army was announced for 2020. In 2019, the first hundred competing Mi-28NM helicopters were already contracted.
Both types will be introduced into the service at the same time, but probably in different proportions depending on the area of operation and its conditions. Ka-52M has certainly been better adapted, among others to operate in the Arctic or in the Far East of Russia.
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