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1/2 Analysis: Russia designs new seaborne helicopters


The development of seaborne aviation enjoys growing attention in the renewal of the Russian Navy. The first prototype of Minoga helicopter will be ready in 2025-2026. The producer in Arsenyev in Primorye region has also mastered a new technology to make Ka-52K helicopters. The rotorcraft has passed all trials and is ready for batch production. The Army Standard writes which seaborne helicopters are to replace the operational ones.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Russian Helix Ka-27PS helicopter aboard a ship during the annual maritime exercise Baltic Operations. (Picture source Wikimedia)


The Pentagon has recently said that the aircraft carrying fleet will no longer retain the decisive role in modern wars. The US military often call to drop the stake on aircraft carrying forces in armed conflicts. The recent optimization plan of the US Navy stipulates the engagement of nine aircraft carriers instead of eleven. It also increases the construction of small warships, boats, and submarines and limits the number of cruisers and destroyers.

It makes the search and detection of such warships a priority for the Russian naval aviation and its role in potential future conflicts will considerably grow.

Ka-27 (Helix by NATO classification) has been the main Soviet and Russian seaborne helicopter since 1981. It usually operates in pairs over the sea. One helicopter searches for a submarine and the other attacks the detected target with various antisubmarine arms.

The helicopter has several outstanding characteristics. Pilots praise its coaxial scheme. If other rotorcraft have to turn to the wind in case of side wind gusts, Ka-27 does not even notice them. It is important in flights over the sea where gusty wind frequently blows. The coaxial scheme rotates rotors in opposite directions and Ka-27 does not need a tail rotor and a tail beam. It makes it more compact.

Close to 400 helicopters have been made. The Russian naval aviation operates today 60 antisubmarine Ka-27 and Ka-27M, 16 Ka-27PS rescue helicopters, 28 Ka-29 combat transport helicopters and several Ka-31 radar surveillance craft.

Ka-27 had an advanced automatic antisubmarine sight and piloting equipment. It has been several times upgraded but is now morally outdated. It was decided to design a new helicopter to respond to modern challenges.


Russia designs new seaborne helicopters Analysis 1 2 925 002
Ka-52K ship-based version of the Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter. (Picture source Wikimedia)


Ka-52K was the first of them. It appeared after Moscow and Paris signed a deal to build Mistral helicopter carriers for Russia. The warships had to carry Russian-made helicopters. Ka-52K is the seaborne option of combat-reconnaissance Ka-52. It can operate from various warships.

A contract for the delivery of 32 Ka-52K for Mistral was ready for signing. The seaborne helicopter has folding blades and panels to fit into the space of the French carrier. It has strengthened chassis supports and additional anticorrosion treatment.

Ka-52K has modern avionics and stabilized optical-electronic system. Upgraded radio-electronic equipment provides navigation in the absence of any landmarks.

The French cancelled the Mistral contract in 2014 and sold the ships to Egypt. Russia won the tender to supply helicopters to Egypt, as it already had helicopters fit for the French ships.

The Russian Defense Ministry began to consider the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier as the prospective carrier of Ka-52K. It carries a helicopter group of 24 craft. The Admiral Kuznetsov participated in Syrian combat in late 2016 and engaged a wing of Ka-52K.

Experts said the combat payload of over two tons developed the helicopter into a powerful weapon. Ka-52K carries air bombs and Kh-31 and Kh-35 missiles with a range of 130-150 km. Previously only seaborne MiG-29K/KUB fighter jets could fire such missiles.

In April 2019, Yantar Shipyard said Ka-52K will be carried by big amphibious assault ships of project 11711. Today Ka-52K are engaged in trials of most warships that can carry helicopters, including new frigates.