The Ka-52 strike helicopter is based on the Ka-50 ‘Black Shark’, but as a newer version offers several innovative features for combat coordination. An all-weather, multi-purpose combat helicopter, the Ka-52 is considered a commander’s vehicle and as such, is equipped with a system that uses optical RF (radio frequency) and thermal sensors to track targets and then distribute them between other helicopters in the unit.
The ‘Alligator’ has retained most of the features attributed to its predecessor, but its innovations allow for better coordination, which renders the newer helicopter’s system more reliable. The built-in 2A42 30-mm automatic cannon can be fitted with Vikhr supersonic anti-tank laser-guided missiles with two-stage warheads, Igla guided air-to-air missiles or S-8 rockets at its four hard points. It can also be used to deliver bombs and its wide array of weapons and electronic warfare make the Ka-52 an extremely powerful and versatile strike helicopter.
The ‘Alligator’ also features a second pilot’s seat in the cockpit, also fitted with controls. Unlike more conventional designs, the seats are side by side which has its pros and cons. For one thing, the arrangement somewhat hampers the Ka-52’s aerodynamics, but it also allows better coordination between the two, rendering the helicopter’s system more reliable. Another benefit is the fact that the Ka-52 strike vehicle can be utilized for pilot training.
The Ka-52 strike helicopters will be manufactured at the Progress factory in the city of Arsenyevsk, which is located in Russia’s Far East. The producer hopes up to 30 Alligators will be completed by 2012 and has hopes that the vehice may some day be available for export.
Here’s to the Alligator, who lurks in leafy glades of all sizes and shapes around us.
I wonder if….we can buy one?
Time will tell.