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Russia’s Ka-52 Alligator Scout-Attack Helicopters

Posted by Kris Roman on November 6, 2008


When “Russia Commits to Multi-Year Buy of 67 Mi-28 Attack Helicopters” was published in July 2006, it appeared that the Mil design bureau’s product (NATO code: Havoc) had eclipsed Kamov’s more radical Ka-50 (NATO code: Hokum) as Russia’s future attack helicopter. A critical loss in Turkey’s attack helicopter competition, and conflicting promises concerning the Kamov machine’s future in Russia, left the platform’s very future in doubt. Russia’s 2005 defense budget, for instance, was supposed to include 12 Ka-50 helicopters – until that funding was cut.air_ka-50_black_shark_lg

At present, a handful of coaxial, single-seat Ka-50’s have been delivered to the Army Aviation Training and Conversion Unit at Torzhok. Some even saw action in Chechnya, where their high cruising speed (300 km/h), protection, and ability to carry either armaments or fuel tanks gained them respect as scout/ attack/ command helicopters. Many countries would consider that an odd combination, but it works quite well with Russian doctrines that emphasize durable combat punch for scouts, and central on-scene direction of aviation elements.

Fortunately for the VVS, growing Russian natural resource revenues, and the accompanying growth in Russian defense budgets, are creating new options…

The Ka-52 “Alligator” is a 2-seat version of the Ka-50, using a side by side layout common to transport helicopters instead of the front-and-rear layout common in attack helicopters. This changes the helicopter’s aerodynamics somewhat, reducing cruise speed and increasing fuel consumption slightly. On the other hand, this change is expected to make it easier for the helicopter crew to perform battlefield observation and coordination roles. A Turkish-specific, NATO-compatible variant of the Ka-52 called the Erdogan was developed in cooperation with Israel’s IAI, and competed in Turkey’s attack helicopter competition.

Nov 9/08: Various media reports now quote Russian Air Force chief Colonel-General Alexander Zelin, who says they will place a 2009 order for 12 Ka-52 “Alligator” helicopters, subject to successful completion of mandated testing. Col.-Gen. Zelin stresses that this is not a substitute for the Mi-28s, which are expected to begin arriving in 2009.

Meanwhile, Kamov indicates that they have been given the go-ahead for “full production,” and hope to complete 30 helicopters for Russia by 2012 while pursuing export orders.


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