Ka-52 helicopter

It is worth starting the review, as a rule, with a historical insight, because you can get a full understanding of the three components that make the Ka-52 such a vehicle as it really is.

There are many nuances in the case of the Ka-52, the main one of which is the inability to provide normal combat work to the pilot of the Ka–50 (single-seat vehicle) at the level of the Mi-28, where two crew members flew. The equipment of that time could not completely replace a person, and therefore, in the depths of the Kamov Design Bureau, the general designer S. V., Mikheev decided to start work on the creation of a reconnaissance and control helicopter based on the Ka-50. This helicopter was supposed to be a two-seater and act together with the Ka-50 group as a flying coordination center.

Ka-52 helicopter: review, qualities, prospects.

A complex of electrooptical and radar equipment was developed to dispatch a mission. To work with this complex, it took a second crew member, who was decided to be placed next to the pilot, and not behind him, as on most similar helicopters in the world.

This cabin layout solved several problems at once, the main one of which was to simplify the interaction between crew members during flights in difficult conditions, at low altitudes and during military operations. In addition, there was no need to duplicate the instruments for the bombardier.

The new helicopter structurally differed from the Ka-50 only in the cabin, in other respects the designs were 85% identical. The cabin armor system has also been preserved, the total weight of the armor is about 300 kg.

The changes mainly affected the filling of various equipment.

The most important feature was the K-37-800 ejection seats, which the designers were able to place in the cockpit for both crew members. When the rescue system is activated, the vanes are automatically shot off before ejection.

The control of the helicopter was made double, and both the pilot and the bombardier could control the machine.

Naturally, the placement of the equipment and another crew member had a negative impact on the helicopter’s APC. However, the decrease in flight characteristics caused by the weighting of the structure turned out to be possible to offset by installing a higher-power engine (VK-2500) and a significant redesign of the prow, which brought the aerodynamics of the Ka-52 to the level of the Ka-50.

The main difference between the Ka-52 and the Ka-50 is avionics and electronics. A number of options for equipping the helicopter were considered, and in the end, the Russian Ministry of Defense settled on an option that significantly enhanced the capabilities of the Ka-52 over the Ka-50.

The main attribute of the Ka-52 is the aiming-flying-navigation system «Argument-2000». The complex includes:

  • on-board computer «Baguette-53»;
  • navigation instrumentation PNK-73DM;
  • round-the-clock observation and aerobatic system TOES-520;
  • round-the-clock search and sighting system GOES-451 (coupled with the RLC «Arbalet»);
  • radar complex «Arbalet-52»;
  • on-board communication complex BKS-50;
  • on-board defense complex «Vitebsk»;
  • avionics using MFD and helmet-mounted target designation and indication systems;
  • dual control of the complex, the same for both crew members, grouped on their helicopter controls;
  • the RLC «Arbalet-52» is two-channel, with two independent antennas.

The first, located in the bow, serves to search for and attack targets, has a large aperture.

Ka-52 helicopter: review, qualities, prospects.

The second antenna is overhead, with a smaller aperture, provides a circular view for general control of the airspace and protection from hostile missiles.

«Arbalet-52» is capable of tracking up to 20 targets, the radar tank «sees» from 12 km, the aircraft — from 15 km. A Stinger-class missile is detected from 5 km. In addition, «Arbalet-52» supplies data to the sighting and navigation systems, warns of obstacles when flying at ultra-low altitudes.

The basis of the flight complex at any time of the day is a surveillance and search system, consisting of the optoelectronic system GOES-451, the night flight system TOES-250 and NSCI, helmet-mounted displays, with which pilots can monitor the situation around the clock. From the position sensors of the pilots’ helmets, the head of the TOES is controlled.

GOES-451 includes a thermal imaging elbow, cameras with wide and narrow angles of view, a laser rangefinder, laser irradiation sensors. The system allows to detect targets at a distance of up to 10 km during the day and up to 6 km at night. In addition, GOES-451 receives data from the Arbalet-52 radar. The on-board computer processes the data received from all sources and projects a synthesized image of the target and the terrain both on the displays on the dashboard and on the helmet-mounted displays of the pilots.

The integration of all tools for obtaining information about the environment (radar, thermal imaging elbow, laser rangefinder, cameras) into a single system controlled by an on–board computer with the ability to issue data in a way that is convenient for pilots is a task that the designers were able to solve 100%.

Five LCD monitors on the dashboard, one monitor between the legs of the left pilot, an indicator on the windshield of the left pilot plus helmet screens – all this allows pilots to get the most complete picture of what is happening. The only thing that is still missing is the helmet–mounted targeting system. But even without this, pilots can quite effectively manage all the weapons at their disposal.

It is worth mentioning separately about the L-370V52 protection system of the Vitebsk group.

The system automatically detects laser irradiation, radar, rocket launch and activates the use of passive interference in the same mode, shooting off dipole reflectors or heat traps. In addition, the L-370V52 can carry out active protection in the infrared and radio range, disrupting missile guidance.

The L-370V52 system can operate completely automatically, informing pilots about the nature of the threat and the direction from which the attack was made. L-370V52 not only identifies threats, but also reports on the countermeasures taken and the means of protection remaining at the disposal of the crew.

The Ka-52 helicopter complex includes:

  • capsule control;
  • detection equipment of laser irradiation;
  • ultraviolet direction finders for launching missiles;
  • electro-optical warfare system;
  • devices for emitting passive jamming;
  • digital active jamming station.

The digital active jamming station is designed to produce electromagnetic interference and suppress radar signals of enemy detection and guidance radars, as well as guided missile homing heads.

Here the question may arise: if helicopters are so effectively protected, then why are there cases of their being disabled by the hostile during a special operation in Ukraine.

If you carefully study the cases of an unscheduled landing of the Ka-52 with the number three, it becomes clear that the most effective way to destroy helicopters worked: MANPADS. Moreover, the Stinger is more effective for helicopters than for airplanes, since the helicopter operates at low altitudes and at lower speeds, representing an advantageous target.

However, let’s look at the photo.

Ka-52 helicopter: review, qualities, prospects.

Here it is obvious that the helicopter got the full. It is difficult to deny this fact. The engine was slapped with MANPADS and slapped, obviously, from a close distance. But what can be seen in the photo?

The blades are not shot off, which means that the helicopter either landed normally or on autorotation. There are no signs of ejection. There are no traces of blood and other related factors in the cabin, that is, the crew after the missile hit not only survived, but also survived with the subsequent departure from the landing site.

That is, 300 kg of armor played its role just fine. Which was required to be proved in this case.

Preliminary summary: the protection of the Ka-52 in reality «holds the blow» of the «Stinger». And a knockdown at the exit. But the crew (the most valuable thing) will just get a new vehicle later and continue their work after the necessary rehabilitation.

Armament. It’s just worth saying here that it’s not what the Ka-52 has, but how it is.

A gun. 2A42. That is, the same thing that stands on light armored vehicles: BMP-2, BTR-82A, BTR-82AT. Ammunition from 500 shells with a caliber of 30 mm, which can be borrowed from anyone if necessary: tankers, motorized skirmishers, gunners, in short, all groundsmen who have 30 mm shells k 2A42 and 2A72 in warehouses. That is, almost everyone.

Unification is generally always useful.

The gun is movable in two planes, and if necessary, two more can be added to external nodes in container installations. Then, in general, life below becomes sad. The choice of ammunition is controlled by the operator, selective feeding is a useful thing.

Six suspension units, which can accommodate almost two tons of various weapons, from guided missiles of the “Ataka” group to anti-aircraft “Igla-V”.

«Attaka» gives two options: anti-tank 9M120-1 with a tandem cumulative warhead and 9M120F-1 with a high-explosive warhead with a volumetric detonating mixture. Everything is very formful and without unnecessary frills.

The perspective is here too. “Chrysanthemums”, which are very serious anti-tank weapons, will be used very well from the Ka-52. In addition to them, it is planned to adopt the Hermes-A long-range anti-tank missiles and the Ataka-M short-range anti-tank missiles, all-weather and round-the-clock use.

Well, and the NAR S-8 and S-13, which have already become classics.

In total, we have a round-the-clock and year-round helicopter of direct support of troops on the battlefield, capable of attacking any targets. Plus, a fairly well-protected crew working with the help of modern detection and targeting equipment.

Ka-52 helicopter: review, qualities, prospects.

Of course, the Ka-52 cannot but have opponents. But as the practice of use in Syria (very limited in quantity and time) and in special operations in Ukraine has shown, this is a modern machine for modern combat, capable of providing sufficient support to its troops on the ground.

It is today that we can observe and draw conclusions in video reports about how successful this helicopter turned out to be. The intensity of use and frankly small losses indicate that when suppressing large SAMs and hostile fighter aircraft, the Ka-52 can practically solve problems around the clock to ensure the safety of transport columns, perform amphibious operations and cover any offensive actions of the army from the air.

Power-to-weight ratio, avionics, electronics, electronic warfare, armor, rescue equipment, weapons, reliability — all this was quite successfully combined into the Ka-52. And it is in this harmony that the strength of this machine lies.