Combat helicopters had to
experience harsh times, when their combat role was completely denied, only to be
acknowledged as an indispensable weapon for any successful modern operation of ground
forces. Today, many countries have developed combat action concepts based on employment of
army aviation helicopters. According to published data, combat helicopters in the late
1970s and early 1980s always enjoyed the upper hand in duels with tanks during military
exercises at a ratio of 1:10, 1:14 and even 1:20 in their favor. This led to urgent
rigging of tank units with air defense artillery and air defense missile systems to
protect them from combat helicopter attacks. Then combat helicopters, fitted with antitank
guided missiles boasting a range of up to 5 km, became easily vulnerable targets for air
defense artillery and air defense missile systems.
The development of the Ka-50 Black Shark and AN-64A Apache
combat helicopters aimed to redress this disparity and make the helicopters able to defeat
tanks armed with air defense weapons.
The Ka-50 combat helicopter can be used to defeat
targets on the battlefield within wide ranges of launching high-precision supersonic
antitank missile systems, including launches from more than a 6-km range within a
stand-off zone of air defense artillery and air defense missile systems. The Ka-50 combat
helicopter is intended to defeat modern armored and mechanized materiel, air targets and
This co-axial helicopter features a high flight
performance and ease of piloting via automated flight devices. It can successfully execute
combat missions day/night owing to high survivability under hostile fire, powerful
armament and comfortable pilot's cockpit.
The helicopter was tested in simulated combat
conditions. It met all the
requirements for combat helicopters and won a Ministry of Defense tender.
The Ka-50 helicopter is unrivalled in the world in
terms of the 'cost-efficiency' criteria. In 1995 the Ka-50 combat helicopter entered
service and is now series produced at Progress Arsenyevsk-based aviation complex.
The success of any combat operation to support ground
forces on the battlefield depends to a large extent on the joint combat actions of group
combat helicopters. A group commander flying in a combat formation is responsible for
control over subordinate helicopters. His helicopter should be fitted with more
sophisticated equipment compared to the rest of the group to make him see better targets
on the battlefield and be able to ensure target designation and distribution, provide for
constant control over group combat helicopters and maintain communications with a ground
command post. The scope of tasks assigned to the commander frees him from helicopter
piloting. Consequently, he should fly in a two-seat flying combat vehicle.
The Ka-52, designated Alligator, multi-role all-weather
combat helicopter, is intended for this purpose as a two-seat modification of the Ka-50
combat helicopter. Pilots accommodated side-by-side in one cockpit can fly this helicopter
and handle all on-board systems. The Alligator retained all combat capabilities of its
predecessor, including the whole array of weaponry. It is outfitted with a multifunctional
on-board integrated electronic flight, navigation and weapon control system. Its
passive/active observation/search and sighting systems ensure target search and their
attack day/night in any weather conditions. The Sextant Avionic of France and Thomson
company take part in creation of this helicopter. The Ka-52 Alligator is 85 percent
identical to the Ka-50 base helicopter in terms of its airframe and main systems. Pilots
escape via an ejection system. The Ka-52 Alligator can also be used as a trainer. Pilot
accommodation and the availability of new multifunctional equipment system led to an
increase in the weight of the empty helicopter and a certain deterioration in flight
performance, compared to the Ka-50. However, it did not affect the integrated quality of
this flying machine as a whole.
Externally, the Ka-52 combat helicopter differs from
its predecessor in the front part of the fuselage, shape of the cockpit and arrangement of
round-the-clock observation/search and sighting systems. Pilots are rigged with
pressurized helmets fitted with built-in displays to provide for required flight and
sighting data. The Ka-50 and Ka-52 helicopters feature interchangeability, thereby
reducing costs for series production and joint operation in combat units.
Naturally, Alligator is more expensive than Black
Shark. However, this is attributable to payments for the capability to perform combat
missions on higher and more efficient levels. The advent of Ka-52 does not mean its
automatic substitution by the Ka-50. They can be used more effectively in the interests of
the ground forces, owing to their optimal joint employment in groupings. A similar
approach is also adopted by the U.S. army aviation. The more costly and sophisticated
AN-64D and AN-64D LongBoy helicopter versions do not replace, but instead reinforce the
AN-64A Apache helicopter groupings, thereby increasing their efficiency.
In the near future the Ka-52 will be subjected to
tests. The Kamov company and its foreign partners are convinced of the successful results
of the tests that will enable the Ka-52 helicopter to occupy a leading position in its
class. It is up to foreign buyers to decide whether to choose the Ka-50 or the Ka-52 or a
hybrid to meet their requirements.