The Russian military aims to acquire over 100 newly upgraded Ka-52 attack helicopters in the coming years.
Russian Helicopters, a state-owned helicopter producer, announced on May 28, 2019, that it is modernizing the Ka-52 into a new version – the Ka-52M – which will be produced in sizable quantities moving forward. In a statement, Russian Helicopters CEO Andrey Boginsky said, “Work is underway to further increase the range of detecting and identifying targets and, correspondingly, to boost the capabilities of employing weapons against both ground and air targets.”
Ka-52Ms will receive new onboard electronic equipment, as well as other improvements. Boginsky noted, “Also, in cooperation with other enterprises, we are working on the issue of increasing the helicopter’s armored protection and renewing its power supply system. The second task is to standardize air-launched weapons with our other helicopters of the Mi family.”
The modernization efforts should be completed over the next three years.
Separately, Deputy Defense Minister Alexei Krivoruchko indicated that up to 114 Ka-52Ms are to be purchased under a contract that could be signed as early as next year. He added that the upgrades stemmed in part from the Russian experience in Syria, where Moscow is backing the government of President Bashar al-Assad against insurgent groups. The Russian military deployed to Syria in 2015 and has made extensive use of air power, including helicopters, in its operations.
A Ka-52 crashed in Syria in May 2018, resulting in the death of both pilots. The Defense Ministry indicated that a technical issue with the helicopter may have been responsible for the crash.
As the upgrade work progresses, the Russian military continues to receive the base-model Ka-52. The deputy defense minister commented, “Today the factory is fulfilling a long-term contract for the delivery of Ka-52 reconnaissance and attack helicopters. By 2022, we expect to get an additional 30 helicopters, including eight rotorcraft by the end of this year.” He made the statement while on a visit to the Progress Aviation Enterprise, a subsidiary of Russian Helicopters that manufactures the Ka-52.