If you think air-to-ground combat and reconnaissance don’t get any more impressive, then you haven’t seen the Kamov Ka-52 Alligator. This two-seat attack helicopter packs a powerful punch with its advanced avionics system and heavily armed weapon systems.
In the 1980s, the Kamov team proposed a new helicopter model, based on the Ka-60, to conduct battlefield reconnaissance and provide support for group attack helicopter operations. However, economic hardships hampered this new development program. Instead, Kamov modified the Ka-50, adding a reconnaissance and target designation system, resulting in the twin-seat version called Ka-52.
The newer Ka-52 has a new nose-mounted radar system, different from the original Ka-50, giving it a rounder nose profile. It also includes a spherical turret featuring a day-and-night TV/thermal sighting system and a side-mounted cannon, with more hardpoints than its predecessor. However, to maintain weight and performance similar to the Ka-50, some armor and the capacity of the cannon magazine/feed were reduced. Flight parameters like the rate of climb and maximum positive load factor also declined but were resolved by the new VK-2500 engine. The Ka-52 is approved for safe flying in varying conditions, including adverse weather.
The first Ka-52 airframe was built in 1996 with series production beginning in 2008. As of September 2010, the 696th Instructor and Research Helicopter Regiment are operating eight helicopters for research and development. In December 2010, four new Ka-52s were delivered to the Air Base of the 344th Centre for Combat Training and Aircrew Conversion.
The Ka-52 started being manufactured in 2008 at the Progress Arsenyev Aviation Company plant in Primorsky Krai. It was introduced into service in May 2011, and two experimental and 24 serial Ka-52s were to be delivered to the Russian Armed Forces by 2012. Another long-term contract of ₽120 billion rubles will provide the Russian Aerospace Forces with a total of 146 Ka-52 helicopters by 2020, and a new version of the helicopter may be purchased under the State Armament Program for 2018-2027.