The first flight of the upgraded Ka-52 ‘Aligator’ helicopter, considered a competitor to the US-made Apache, took place at the Arsenyev Aviation Company (AAK-Progress), part of Russian Helicopters last weekend.
The biggest improvement in the upgraded Ka-52 is a new radar with an active phased antenna array (AESA) besides guided missiles with increased range, a company information said.
Designated as the Ka-52M, the helicopter is equipped with an upgraded optoelectronic system with an increased target detection and recognition range, a new digital drive, which will improve the aiming accuracy when firing a cannon.
The Ka-52 is considered similar to the Boeing Apache in attack ability though both are completely dissimilar in design. It remains to be seen if the new features in the upgraded helicopter will give it an edge over the Apache which has become perhaps the largest selling military helicopter in recent years.
The Ka-52M main rotor blades are equipped with a more powerful heating element, which will allow the helicopter to operate in the entire temperature range, including Arctic conditions. The helicopter is equipped with landing gear wheels with a higher load-bearing capacity and wear resistance, as well as lighting protection equipment based on LEDs.
The modernized Alligator also has a new cockpit interior, which will ensure the fulfillment of modern ergonomic requirements, including when piloting in the dark with night vision goggles.
“Last year we started development work on the modernization of the Ka-52 helicopter, taking into account the experience of its combat use. In broad cooperation with the enterprises of the aviation cluster of the Rostec State Corporation, we have created an actually new machine, which is distinguished by improved characteristics and expanded combat capabilities," said Andrey Boginsky, General Director of the Russian Helicopters Holding.
“The missile armament of the Ka-52M is unified with the armament of another newest helicopter, the Mi-28NM, which has significantly increased the target engagement range," he added.
Flight tests of the upgraded Ka-52M will are the next step. Part of the test stages will be carried out on the territory of the manufacturer, and then the machines will be transferred to the developer. At the end of the preliminary acceptance tests, state joint tests will begin, the release said.