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Shipborne Ka-52K unveiled

Su-30MKIThe first production Kamov Ka-52K shipborne combat helicopter in development for the Russian Navy made its debut this summer during the Army 2015 military technical show in Kubinka, Moscow Region, IMDS 2015 international naval show in St. Petersburg and MAKS 2015 air show in Zhukovsky.


As is known, the Ka-52K was chosen as the baseline attack helicopter for the air groups of the Mistral-class amphibious assault ships ordered by Russia from France in 2011 for the Russian Navy. Although the deal has been called off recently due to the deteriorating geopolitical situation prompted by the developments in Ukraine, the Ka-52K programme continues. The type is planned to equip other Russian Navy ships, including versatile amphibious assault ships planned for construction and shore-based units as well.

It is worth mentioning that the Ka-52 tried landing on and taking off from the Vice Admiral Kulakov large antisubmarine warfare ship as far back as August 2011 and succeeded. The first Ka-52 prototype, side number 061, was used in the tests.

The navalised Ka-52K differs from the baseline model, the Ka-52 army scout/attack helicopter, in having a modified main rotor hub allowing the blades to fold, shorter folding stub wings with two hardpoints each, reinforced landing gear, anticorrosion coating, a modified avionics suite and advanced weapons added to its weapons suite.

The Kamov company has been using a flying testbed derived from the second Ka-52 prototype (side number 062) in support of the Ka-52K development programme. The flying testbed has the truncated folding wing and modified avionics suite. It kicked off its flying trials in this configuration in the Moscow Region in January this year.

Last year, the Arsenyev-based Progress aircraft plant (a subsidiary of Russian Helicopters holding company) began to make a pilot batch of four Ka-52K prototypes, of which the first one - lacking the main rotor blade folding system at the time - took off in Arsenyev on 7 March 2015. The machine sporting the paintjob of the Russian Navy air branch and an inscription to that effect on its fuselage was displayed at the Army 2015 and IMDS 2015 shows. It had been given the folding-blade main rotor system by then.

In Kubinka, the helicopter was shown in the flight configuration and with the Army Aviation Ka-52's standard weapons suite comprising 80-mm S-8 rockets in B-8V20 rocket pods as well as Vikhr-1 and Ataka antitank guided missiles.

During IMDS 2015 it was displayed in the shipborne configuration, i.e. with the main rotor blades and stub wings folded (the wings are folded by having their outer parts turned rearwards). Air-to-surface missiles from the Tactical Missiles corporation were lying by the helicopter, they being the antiship Kh-35UE and multirole Kh-38MLE. The posters nearby showed pictures of the missiles on the hardpoints of the Ka-52 (side number 062) prototype turned into a flying testbed under the Ka-52K programme.

When the same Ka-52K was on display at MAKS 2015, it had new optronic chin-mounted surveillance and fighting system.

Russian Deputy Defence Minister Yuri Borisov in October 2013 mentioned plans to order 32 production-standard Ka-52K helicopters. As was reported in the press, the military and Russian Helicopters signed a contract to that effect in April 2014. The first four helicopters are facing a large-scale test programme. Once it has been completed, the Ka-52K will be cleared for service entry with the Russian Navy.

The baseline model - the twin-seat coaxial-rotor multirole combat helicopter powered by two 2,400 hp VK-2500 turboshaft engines and fitted with up-to-date electro-optical sights, round-the-clock flight systems, a multifunction radar, an electronic warfare systems and advanced weapons - has been in service with the Russian Army Aviation for almost five years. It completed its official tests in 2011. Progress plant launched the Ka-52's production in Arsenyev in 2008 and the delivery of production-standard machines to the Russian Air Force (the Army Aviation is a branch of the Russian Air Force) in December 2010. A long-term contract for over 140 Ka-52s for the Russian Defence Ministry was made in 2011. About 75 production-standard Ka-52s had been delivered to the Russian Army Aviation by early 2015.

Published in Take-off magazine, November 2015.

(Photo: Mikhail Zherdev)

 
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