Videos have begun emerging from Ukraine where Russian Kamov Ka-52 ‘Aligator’ attack helicopters are seen performing dangerous maneuvers and low flybys over what appears to be a reservoir near the Ukrainian city of Alchevsk.
In one of the videos that appeared on May 30, two Ka-52s can be seen emerging from the distance, of which one descends to fly sideways parallel to the water below. As the helicopter approaches the shoreline, it makes a rapid maneuver to flaunt the helicopter’s signature sideways flying capabilities.
Reports suggest this was probably because some people were standing on the shoreline and therefore the pilot decided to put on a show.
The Ka-52 then comes right up to the shore at just a foot above the water before maneuvering aggressively, with its tail almost hitting the water before stabilizing and gaining altitude, giving an impression that the pilot was on the verge of losing control.
— Necro Mancer (@666_mancer) May 30, 2022
This was followed by another Ka-52 flyby at a higher altitude with its distinctive ‘V’ on display.
The incident appeared to be dangerous for those involved, including those flying the helicopter and even the people on the ground. As per reports, there was no tactical justification required for the risky maneuvers.
There was another video posted earlier which showed a similar Ka-52 helicopter flying across what seemed to be the same stretch of water. This one had a caption suggesting that the helicopter was filmed near the Ukrainian city of Alchevsk, Luhansk Oblast.
— Золотой Батон (@zolotoybaton) May 29, 2022
Furthermore, an OSINT analyst has claimed to have confirmed the exact geo-location of this footage, indicating that the incident most probably occurred somewhere on the banks of the Isakivs’ke Reservoir.
Alchevsk has been under separatist control for years. The city is located about 83 km from Severodonetsk, the largest industrial city in Luhansk, which has become the focus of Russia’s military campaign for control of Donbas.
Yet another video surfaced on Tuesday from the same location depicting the Ka-52s putting on a show by releasing flares.
Russian choppers putting on a show in Alchevsk (Lugansk region) 🙂 pic.twitter.com/ip2kjgo7vs
— JazzUp (@JazzUpNow) May 31, 2022
Kamov Ka-52 ‘Alligator’ Attack Helicopter
The Kamov Ka-52 Alligator is one of the Russian Air Force’s most powerful and advanced attack helicopters.
It is said to have impressive flight and combat capabilities which include the ability to fly backward, sideways, and soar as low as nine meters, thereby making the Alligator a highly maneuverable flying armory that can operate around the clock in almost all-weather conditions.
The Ka-52 is armed with a side-mounted 30 mm cannon and it has six external hardpoints for different combinations of weapons which can include anti-tank missiles (Vikhr, Vikhr-M), and air-to-air missiles (Igla-V), pods with unguided rockets, bombs.
For anti-armor missions, it is equipped with up to 12 Vikhr Anti-Tank Guided Munitions (ATGMs) that have a range of up to 10km and penetrate up to 100 cm of steel armor behind explosive reactive armor (ERA).
The Russian military has widely fielded Ka-52 attack helicopters in Ukraine since the invasion kicked off on February 24. There have been numerous videos and claims by the Russian Ministry of Defense featuring the use of Ka-52 for destroying key Ukrainian Command Posts, Ammunition Depots, and several armored vehicles.
In addition, the “Alligator” can also be used to provide cover for military columns on the ground and reliable rear support for transport helicopters in the air.
The attack helicopter is said to fly at very low altitudes in the contested territory to ‘sneak up’ on a target by evading enemy air defense systems, destroying it, and quickly avoiding possible return fire at maximum speed.
That said, there have also been numerous reports of Ukrainian forces shooting down several Ka-52s using various weapons such as the Strela or Igla Man-Portable Air Defense System (MANPAD) and even a Stugna-P ATGM, which is unusual.
Russia Intensifies Air Campaign Over Donbass
Experts suggest the Russian air force has intensified its operations in the Donbas region since mid-May which seems to have contributed to recent breakthroughs on the battlefield by the Russian Army.
“The air force probably played an important role in the breakthrough in the Donbas,” said Jean-Christophe Noël, a researcher at the IFRI’s Security Studies Center.
“It has gone from a rate of 250 sorties per day to 400. The aim is to carry out prohibition strikes with bombs that crush everything. In this instance, the air force’s role doubles the artillery’s,” Noël added.
Numerous images and videos released by the Russian Ministry of Defense show rockets and guided missiles being fired from Su-25 jets and Ka-52 attack helicopters against Ukrainian targets along the entire frontline between Donetsk and Sloviansk.
According to the latest Ukrainian reports, Russian forces have deployed a Ka-52 helicopter squadron ready to provide aviation support to their units north of Izium in the Kharkiv region.
Ukrainian forces have suggested that the Russian troops have been preparing for an attack on Sloviansk from Izium and Lyman, a key rail hub in the Donetsk that Moscow recently claimed to have liberated.