VKS tests Ka-52M operating in low radar contrasts in Ukraine

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The latest variant of the Ka-52M strike helicopter, a potent force in the arsenal of the Russian Aerospace Forces [VKS], is currently under scrutiny to test its capabilities. A raft of reports released by Russian media outlets in September indicated that the Ka-52M is now equipped with a ventral all-round radar station that operates within the centimeter frequency range. 

Photo credit: Dzen.ru

Setting a new benchmark for state-of-the-art technology, this advanced radar system grants Ka-52M pilots superior command in adverse environmental conditions where optical visibility is negligible. An inside source from the defense industry disclosed to RIA Novosti that the Ka-52M can identify a varied spectrum of air and ground existences including enemy aircraft, helicopters, UAVs, armored vehicles, and manpower, all in high-definition radio vision mode. 

Further extending the capabilities offered by the Ka-52M’s new radar system, the source stated that the helicopter can conduct reconnaissance and target acquisition in varying weather conditions and throughout the day, even in the presence of significant natural or artificial radio interference. Interestingly, this particular advancement also enhances the helicopter’s ability to detect targets with poor radar reflectivity. 

According to insider information, the Ka-52M can employ Whirlwind or Product 305 missiles to engage smaller, tank-type enemy targets in zero visibility conditions. Furthermore, the helicopter can ostensibly operate with independence from external sources, relying solely on its targeting data to provide precise coordinates of enemy locations. 

Photo credit: Rosoboronexport

Notably, another source confirmed earlier this year that the Ka-52M has now added Product-305 missiles to its offensive weaponry. The same source disclosed that the beefed-up helicopter is being deployed in the Northern Military District region. 

Regarding the Ka-52M’s field testing environment, a source assured the agency that there are plans to test the helicopter and its new radar system in the war-torn sectors of Ukraine, euphemistically referred to as the “special military operation” zone by Russian forces. Although this information stands uncorroborated, it is well documented that both sides in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine have utilized this theater to validate their latest capabilities.

There appears to be some validity in Russian news concerning the modified Ka-52M’s capabilities. Advancements have probably been made in the attack helicopter’s radar and electronic warfare functions. 

Photo credit: Dzen.ru

As an illustration, BulgarianMilitary.com, in September, conveyed information sourced from the Ukrainian frontline, indicating novel approaches being implemented by Russian attack helicopter groups to neutralize Ukraine’s targeting radars. Specifically, the Ka-52 and Mi-35 helicopters reportedly carry guidance pods directed at the guidance radar. 

An official publication on September 4 of this year, from the Royal United Services Institute [RUSI], shed light on this intel. The report titled “Stormbreak: Fighting Through Russian Defensives in Ukraine’s Offensive 2023” was the product of a comprehensive analysis by authors Dr. Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds. 

The document elaborates on the intricate electronic warfare [EW] tactics employed by the Russian Air Force in opposition to Ukrainian institutions. Intriguingly, the Ukrainian military has identified a pattern linking the removal of GPS jamming in Russian units and ensuing air strikes, underlining the imperative for precise navigation for coordinating these procedures. This insight holds notable relevance because both militaries operate on similar platforms, as underscored by the report’s authors. 

Currently, Russian helicopters are operating near the frontline – a fact that the report identifies as a Russian aviation issue. The logic behind this observation rests on the premise that the frontline proximity of helicopters automatically places ground headquarters and their refueling or arming points in the same vicinity, hence, within the firing range of Ukrainian artillery, thereby rendering them susceptible.

Though no official information has been released on the status of the latest Ka-52M tests, it’s been nearly a month since the Air Force disclosed that state-level testing of the new Ka-52M is underway in Ukraine. Not long after this announcement, Moscow initiated the creation of a fresh division within the Russian airborne units. 

As per sources from the Ministry of Defense, who communicated with Izvestia, this decision comes in the wake of an expansion in the number of both helicopter and tank units. 

Reports from BulgarianMilitary.com reveal that the Russian Airborne Forces, colloquially known as the “Blue Berets”, are set to receive a fleet of Ka-52, Mi-28, and the advanced Mi-8AMTSh-VN helicopters. 

This significant strategic enhancement has been largely influenced by the lessons learned from the military operation Russia conducted in Ukraine. The objective? To bolster the effectiveness of the “wing infantry”. 

It seems the shelved initial plans of integrating an all-army aviation brigade within the Airborne Forces, before the formation of the Northern Military District, are being reassessed. 

Colonel-General Andrey Serdyukov, the commander of the Airborne Forces, acknowledged in a previous conversation with Izvestia that utilizing army aviation helicopters enables airborne units to effectively combat quick-moving enemy formations “under varied physical and geographical conditions,” irrespective of the access to an airport network. 

In a revelation to Izvestia, Colonel Valery Yuriev, the Union of Russian Paratroopers Chairman, unveiled an experimental formation used during pre-operational drills. 

Clarifying further, he said, “The fielding of similar helicopter units was facilitated and the subsequent drills considerably enhanced the maneuverability and firepower of the paratroopers. This innovative formation strategy shows a lot of promise.” 

The ongoing efforts suggest Russia’s intention to bolster the battlefield efficacy of its military units deployed in Ukraine. Evidently, the Ka-52 has proven its mettle against Ukrainian counter-offensive measures. Its decisive role in this war’s future seems practically assured.

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